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Icy roads blamed for three-vehicle collision that took the lives of two men and sent a motorist to the hospital

PHOTO COURTESY OF OREGON STATE POLICE - Two truck drivers died and another motorist was injured during a crash Jan. 7 on the Newberg-Dundee bypass.

Following the first fatal accident on the Newberg-Dundee bypass, local police are advising drivers to be aware of icy patches of road.

Brian Hagen, a spokesperson for the Newberg-Dundee Police Department, said while an investigation into the fatal crash is still underway by the Oregon State Police, ice is believed to be a factor.

The crash, which took the lives of two truck drivers Jan. 7, occurred on the bypass (officially known as Highway 18) near milepost 57 just before 5:30 a.m.

The crash involved two tractor-trailer rigs and a car that crashed into the trucks after they struck ice and lost control. Both truck drivers died and the third driver was taken to a nearby hospital.

There were no fire hydrants nearby, so water was shuttled to the scene from Dundee, Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue, Dayton Fire District and St. Paul Fire Department. Crews fought the blaze for more than an hour.

Hagen said ice can sneak up on motorists, especially early in the year when drivers haven't become accustomed to winter driving.

"Where things go wrong is when driver's panic, slam on the brakes or make sudden steering inputs," Hagen said. "That tends to exacerbate the problem and before you know it, the vehicle is out of control.  When you brake so hard that the wheels lock up, the tires are not spinning and you will skid in a straight line directly into whatever obstacle is in your path.  That's why drivers are urged to 'pump' their brakes because it allows the wheels to keep spinning while you are slowing, which allows for steering and thus some control."

Hagen also pointed to what he characterized as a myth that four-wheel drive vehicles are immune to icy conditions on the road.

"Four wheel drive vehicles are great for propelling a vehicle in harsh conditions, but it does nothing for stopping a vehicle," Hagen said. "Those all-wheel drive vehicles are sometimes more susceptible to crashes because the vehicle is naturally able to go faster in the snow/ice, giving the driver a false confidence until it is time to make a sudden stop."

Hagen advised drivers to slow down and allow for greater distances between their vehicles and those in front of them.

"If temperatures are hovering near freezing, assume you are going to encounter some ice on your route so it is less likely to catch you by surprise," Hagen said. "Of course, if conditions are really bad, stay home if you can, but obviously that is easier said than done in many cases."

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