Winter Highway Survival: What would you do?

January 7, 2022
Jonathan J. Russell

A recent snowstorm caused a United States Senator to endure a twenty-seven (27) hour commute from his home in Virginia to the U.S. Capital.  He was one of hundreds of drivers trapped in freezing temperatures on a 50-mile stretch of I-95 following a multi-vehicle crash, which brought traffic to a standstill.  Could you survive such an ordeal?   Here are some simple tips to help you comfortably wait for traffic to start moving again or for help to arrive.

  • Pack a Bag

If you must travel during a snowstorm, it is important that you are prepared.  In winter, always keep some snacks, such as granola bars, and bottled water in your car.   If traveling with children or pets, be sure to keep food and supplies for them, too.  Bringing essentials such as food, water, and a charged cell phone can make a huge difference if you find yourself stuck on the road.

Beyond these essentials, it would also be helpful to bring survival gear such as blankets, winter garments, boots, sleeping bags, flares, medications, a first-aid kit, a shovel, an ice scraper, jumper cables, and a full tank of gas.

  • Stay Warm

If you find yourself stuck on the road during a snowstorm you should not leave your car. Your car is the safest place to be until the storm subsides. It will always be colder outside your car than the air temperature within.  Don’t leave your car unless help or assistance is within a short distanced of your vehicle

  • Focus on Your Health

If you are feeling scared or alone, just remember that there are other people who are also stuck. If available, eat foods that are high in fats and carbohydrates. These foods will help you generate energy and stay warm. Try and preserve your phone’s battery life for as long as you can.  If possible bring a charging cords or an external battery charger.

  • Make Yourself Visible

When the car engine is running, turn on your hazard lights or dome lights so rescuers are able to see you. When the snow lets up, you can also raise the car’s hood to signal for help.

  • Vehicle Considerations

While internal combustion engines (ICE) can run out of fuel, electric vehicles can pose particular challenges too.  Tesla’s corporate website suggests that you “should precondition your car around your schedule. . .You can conserve significant energy on the road by using Scheduled Departure while plugged in.”  Additionally, if you use seat heaters for warmth instead of running the car’s heater, you can further preserve battery life.

The American Automobile Association recommends running an ICE vehicle the car for five to 10 minutes to warm it up, and then shutting it off for 30 to 45 minutes before starting it up again.

If snowy weather is in the forecast, drivers of any type of vehicle should plan ahead, and travel with a full charge or full gas tank.

  • Driving After the Storm

Once the storm has passed and you feel ready to drive; drive slowly to avoid skidding. It takes longer to decelerate in icy conditions.  You will want to maintain a larger than typical distance between your vehicle and the next.   It should also be noted that tire pressure drops in cold weather. Drivers should inspect their tires monthly and before long trips.

Since 1985, the personal injury attorneys at Drake, Hileman & Davis, have been concerned for the safety of those in our community. We have been helping the injured find answers, whenever accidents happen. We have a proven track record of results and satisfied clients. We’re ready to answer your questions and provide you with the legal help you need. Contact us on-line or call us at 1-to schedule your free consultation in the convenience of your home or at one of our five offices located throughout the region.