Police, tow trucks responding to hundreds of callsPublished 10:38am Friday, January 8, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
Snow has hit Michiana and hit hard.
With lake-effect snow piling up non-stop since last weekend, traffic accidents and slideouts are on the rise in Niles.
Lt. Mike Brown of the Michigan State Police Niles Post reported the state police has responded to 43 accidents involving property damage and minor injuries since Dec. 20.
And that doesn’t include the hundreds of slideoffs, spinouts and vehicles stuck in snow that are common with snowy and icy weather.
Pete Adams, owner of Pete’s Southside Marathon in Niles, said on a snowy day like Wednesday it’s not uncommon for him to get more than 100 calls for a tow truck.
“Everybody sees an increase (in business),” Adams said. “For us, it probably goes up 40 to 60 percent this time of year. This year has been unusual with all the snow and a lot of ice, and people just don’t slow down. And people are getting stuck in their driveways because they don’t shovel.”
Jeremy Clanton, owner of Precision 24-Hour Towing in Niles, said his business has increased too.
“Towing has definitely increased by 40 percent in the last few weeks,” he said. “Lots of slideoffs, getting people out of ditches.”
What he’s been surprised by is many of the calls have been cars without damage to vehicles.
“I don’t see people driving as bad as they used to,” Clanton said. “I would say 90 percent of our calls have no damage done to the vehicle.”
Lt. Brown was happy to report no serious injuries from any of the accidents in this early barrage of winter weather.
“Fortunately there have been no significant injuries,” he said. “That means people are keeping the speed down and seatbelt usage is up. Seatbelt usage is always important but especially in this weather.”
Brown says most of the accidents he sees are the result of people driving too fast or not allowing enough distance between themselves and the car in front of them.
The slick roadways aren’t going for the next couple days, either. A lake-effect snow warning is in effect from this afternoon through Saturday.
According to the National Weather Service, there is a 60 percent chance of snow tonight. There’s a 50 percent chance of snow showers with around an inch of new accumulation possible Saturday.
Snow blowers flying off shelves
Dennis Hinsey, manager of HFS Tractor, said two-stage snow blowers have been hot sellers with the blast of winter weather in the last two weeks.
“If this weather continues, we could be out by the end of the week or next week,” he said. “If you need one, get it now.”
Hinsey also has seen an influx of snow blowers needing repair. They are currently servicing between 60 and 70 snow blowers.
Tony Stock, manager of Rural King in Niles, has seen an increase in sales of winter supplies.
One of the more popular items? Roof rakes, which are used to clear roofs of snow and icicles, are the only winter items the store is running low on.