The Illinois State Police have been kept busy Thursday morning with car accidents thanks to an ice storm that caused havoc during the morning commute.
From 4:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. local troopers had dealt with 35 ice-related crashes, 27 of them in Madison County and eight in St. Clair County. After 9:30 a.m., there were about five more accidents.
A spokesman said the troopers were "slammed" by the number of accident reports.
"Some days we have no accidents and some days we have 10," Trooper Calvin Dye said. "But to have 35 accidents, that's outrageous."
The worst of the accidents was a head-on collision that occurred on Illinois 111 a quarter-mile north of New Poag Road. One person involved in that collision has been taken to St. Louis University Hospital with what police call "severe injuries."
Dye said accidents are usually worse during the first winter storm of the year because people don't slow down to account for slippery conditions.
"The most important thing for people to remember is that when it is icy they shouldn't drive 45 or 55 because that's what the speed limit signs say," Dye said. "We're urging people to slow down for their own safety and for the safety of other people on the road. You should be driving way under the posted speed limit."
The most dangerous road seems to be Interstate 255 and its northern extension, Illinois 255, Dye said. Twenty-seven of the 35 crashes State Police are dealing with have occurred on that roadway.
Illinois Department of Transportation district operations engineer Joe Monroe said workers know that conditions are expected to get worse. But they're prepared to handle the situation.
"We have people in all 11 counties we cover on standby through Saturday," Monroe said. "They're prepared to do 12-hour shifts to keep roads clear for motorists."
According to the National Weather Service the bulk of the bad weather is expected to stay south of Interstate 64 where up to an inch of snow could fall Thursday afternoon. Another 1-3 inches is expected overnight and into Friday.
While Monroe said he believes IDOT crews are ready to handle whatever Mother Nature dishes out, he asked that motorists help plow crews out by staying clear.
"We need people to give all snow plows, not just ours but those from other agencies, too, the room they need to do their job," Monroe said.