Two injured in accidentSheriff stresses safety on secondary roads
RIVERSIDE — Two Riverside teens were injured Thursday afternoon when a vehicle they were riding in lost control and rolled on a gravel road in rural Washington County.
According to the Iowa State Patrol report, a 1998 Chevy pickup driven by Kathryn Gerot, 14, of Riverside, was traveling westbound on 170th Street at about 3:32 p.m. Thursday when the vehicle lost control and entered the north ditch. The report said the vehicle rolled and Gerot was ejected from the vehicle. Gerot wasn’t wearing a seat belt at the time of the incident. The vehicle came to rest on its top in the south ditch.
Passenger Murphy Beinhart, 14, of Riverside was also injured in the accident. The report said she was wearing her seat belt at the time of the incident. She had to be extracted from the vehicle. The report said that Gerot was transported by AirCare to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. Beinhart was transported by Washington County Ambulance to Washington County Hospital.
Responding to the scene were the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Riverside First Responders, Ainsworth Fire Department, Washington County Ambulance and Iowa State Patrol.
Washington County Sheriff Jerry Dunbar said today that people need to use caution when traveling on gravel roads in the county. He said many accidents, including the one Thursday, occur on gravel.
“It isn’t a hard surface,” he said. “You have something loose under your tires when you are driving. It is not a surface that you have good traction on.”
He said that one of the main ways motorists can protect against an accident on a gravel road is to drive more slowly. He said that in cases when a gravel road has been recently maintained, all the gravel is loose. On a road that hasn’t been maintained in a while, there is a track area with a harder surface.
When on gravel, Dunbar said it is common for people to feel they are being pulled a certain direction. He also said it is common for people to overcorrect or hit the brakes, which can cause a skid. He advises the best thing to do is let off the accelerator and turn only slightly.
“Only turn about a quarter as much as you think you need to,” he said. “The car will typically straighten itself. If you over-steer it is hard to get it corrected.”
Another area on gravel that is dangerous, Dunbar said, is when a vehicle is cresting a hill. He said the car gets lighter if it is going too fast and can come down on loose gravel.
Dunbar said that he has learned that there isn’t much training to drive on gravel roads in most driver’s education course. He encourages parents to take their children out and help them get experience driving on gravel.
He also said that cornering on gravel is difficult. He said that, especially on a truck, there is less weight holding the vehicle on the ground.
Another danger Dunbar said happens with gravel roads is many times the ditch areas aren’t well maintained and plant life is allowed to grow. He said this can be a hiding spot for deer.
Dunbar said motorists should always wear seat belts.