BUFFALO, N.Y. - Sunday's snowfall comes on one of the busiest travel days of the year, with many people trying to get home from their Thanksgiving trips.
Sunday's Lake Effect Snow Advisory for Northern Erie County was canceled in the early evening, but not before a day filled with fender benders and cars sliding off the road.
While the snow created slippery road conditions, New York State Police said the biggest contributor to Sunday's spate of accidents was careless driving.
"Everybody is in a hurry to get home," said Sgt. Gregory Peron of the State Police, Thruway Division in Buffalo. "It's the last day of Thanksgiving break, and just allowing themselves that little extra time could have avoided a lot of the problems we had today."
From 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. Sunday, Sgt. Peron said State Police received 42 calls from drivers on the section of Thruway his division covers (stretching from Rochester through the Pennsylvania state line). Peron said 17 of the calls were for cars sliding off the highway, while the remaining 25 were for accidents.
Sgt. Peron said the holiday traffic congestion caused even more rear-end collisions than State Police typically respond to on a snowy Sunday.
Before 7 p.m. Sunday, a wreck on the inbound portion of Route 33 forced Buffalo Police to temporarily close a portion of the highway, causing a massive traffic build up. Minutes after police re-opened the highway, we drove past a fender bender less than a half mile from the site of the previous crash.
"People just aren't prepared mentally and their vehicles may not be prepared physically for the winter driving yet," Sgt. Peron said. "The biggest thing is that people are expecting to get where they need to be in the same amount of time it takes in the summer time on dry roads."
Some drivers got the message quickly. Eric Fox, the owner of Mr. Fox Tire in Buffalo said he was slammed all weekend, and even had to stay open late Sunday.
"Usually, on the first snow fall, most people are ill-prepared," Fox said. "They realize they need snow tires when the snow is there, and they're skidding, having problems getting to work or getting out of their driveway."
As of 6 p.m. Sunday, driving conditions on the main highways appeared to have improved considerably, given the steady flow of traffic. Sgt. Peron expects the roads to be relatively clear for the Monday morning commute.