Auto body shops brace for upcoming storm's impact

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- "This is an ice-damaged car where it slid into the curb and broke the suspension off," says Perry Smith, showing off one of the cars in his lot that needs to be repaired. He has seen a lot of cars with that kind of damage at his shop, Coachcraft Autobody, which has already gotten twenty vehicles towed in after last week's stormy weather.

"Inertia is a bad thing," says Smith. "It gets going that ice. Get on your brakes and then look out!"

Now, he and his technicians are worried about the next big storm.

"It's overwhelming sometimes with the amount of wrecks that we have," he says.

Over at McCarran Auto Body, owner Jerry Wientjes has seen first-hand the damage from last week's 34-vehicle pileup on I-580 near the Galena Creek Bridge. He shows off a Toyota at his shop that was rear-ended.

"We get these storms and they just bring them in on tow trucks," says Wientjes. "And then we get some pretty nasty crashes. We just hope nobody gets hurt."

Nevada Highway Patrol says even though the roads were slick, all those big crashes, including the 19-vehicle pileup on I-80 eastbound near Mustang, were preventable. Trooper Matthew McLaughlin says it all came down to driver error and motorists driving too fast for conditions they're not used to this winter.

"They're so used to driving on clear days on dry surfaces," says Trooper McLaughlin. "And sometimes with little notice, the roads are iced over and there's black ice."

His number one tip for drivers when it comes to the upcoming storm is to slow down when the roads are expected to be slick.

"It's just getting people in the habit of slowing down, being more cautious and realizing the hazards that do exist on the highways," he says.