Salt truck laid overturned on the side of Route

February 12, 2008

Salt spilled onto the frozen ground as a MoDOT salt truck laid overturned on the side of Route W-W. On the other side of the road, falling ice froze to the side of a red pickup truck with a smashed bumper.

Salt trucks help protect drivers in winter conditions, but even those drivers have to deal with the weather.

On the afteroon of Feb. 11, a MoDOT salt truck collided with a red pickup truck sending two of the trucks‘ passengers to the University Hospital. The Millersburg Fire Protection District responded to the call for a motor accident with injuries, but found an overturned MoDOT truck when they arrived on the scene.

Derek Back was one of the fire fighters who responded to the call, spending two hours in the middle of the road to direct traffic until crews cleared the scene. Back says that while salt trucks are heavy, a slick road makes it possible for anyone to get into an accident.

“This is the first one I’ve responded to in my career, but we hear of it every so often,” Back said. “Heavy equipment dump trucks, salt trucks; it’s a danger for them to be on the roads like this.”

The MFPD responds to an average of 30-50 accidents during the winter season.

“We see accidents like this quite often,” Back said, “Especially when the weather starts to change.”

While the accident occured near Columbia, it was outside of the jurisdiction of the Public Works Department. However, Columbia is working on clearing the roads as well.  Operations Manager Mary Ellen Lea says that they are prepared for the weather.

Columbia currently has 17 salt trucks and five smaller trucks to clear the roads. The trucks have a chain system mounted under the axle. When the wheel spins, the chains underneath offer added traction.

Lea said that before the weather comes, the trucks lay just salt. Once the precipitation begins, the trucks lay a salt and cinder mixture for added traction.