Record cold makes for tricky driving in Denver

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DENVER -- The snow, ice and freezing temperatures have led to a huge spike in accidents on roads throughout the metro area for the past few days. The backlog of crashes caused several area police department to issue "accident alerts", which generally indicate that officers will not respond to car accidents unless there are injuries or if alcohol or drugs play a factor.

If you're involved in an accident during a similar alert, experts say you need to prepare to take charge.

"Move those vehicles, document everything, and then file an insurance claim," said Carole Walker, an insurance industry spokesperson.

On Thursday, the ice helped contribute to one of many crashes along Colfax in Lakewood.

"(The other car) turned in front of me," said Kim Downes, who was one of the drivers involved in a crash. "I tried to stop but the roads were too icy, so I was hit."

Though a Lakewood police officer did respond to Downes' crash, earlier in the day that wouldn't have been the case.

If police aren't able to come to the scene, Walker says you should still follow the same protocols and do everything you can to avoid offers by other drivers to cut a deal. She says the best way to be ready for that situation is to plan ahead.

"So be thinking about, maybe keeping a pad and a pen in the car with you, and get out that cell phone as a useful tool and make sure your using it as well," Walker said.

Although an officer did arrive on the scene of Downes' crash, she took plenty of photos herself.

"(The other driver) was wondering why I was taking pictures of their car and I'm like, 'I'm sorry, I just need it for insurance purposes," Downes said.

She says wanted to be prepared no matter who could respond.

"I knew they weren't that busy right now, so I did call the police, otherwise I would have just exchanged information back and forth with him and contacted my insurance company," Downes said.

Experts say it's also a good time for drivers to refresh themselves on their level of insurance coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is optional in Colorado, meaning if you don't have it you could be paying for accidents cause by someone who doesn't have insurance.

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