Are You Ready for Winter Driving?

Severe winter has once again arrived earlier than normal in many parts of the country, bringing with it snowy, and icy road conditions that can put unprepared drivers at extreme risk.

On January 28 of this year, a crippling polar vortex descended on Atlanta, Georgia; leaving thousands of motorists stranded on impassible roadways for hours, and in some cases days.

For Atlanta resident Tiana Person, a trip that would normally take only 20 minutes turned into a nine hour ordeal. “If the road had the slightest incline,” says Person, “you could not drive let alone walk, and it was nothing but a sheet of ice. I was lucky. I always have blankets in my car, but road salt or something to get traction would have been amazing.”  The storm left her husband stranded in another of the family’s vehicles for 22 hours, before he made it safely back home.  The next day he discovered that his vehicle had been struck several times by other vehicles as it sat on the roadside.

Another Atlanta resident, Lettie Hernandez Ongie, was stranded for 13 hours.  She compares driving conditions during the storm to “ice skating meets bumper cars.” Ongie says she was fortunate to have a phone charger and extra clothes in her vehicle.  Her husband, who was also stranded for 13 hours in another vehicle, had no charger and no extra clothing or blankets for warmth. “We both learned we need to be more prepared with blankets, food and water,” says Ongie. Both she and her husband were fortunate to make it home with no injuries and no damage to their vehicles.

Would you be prepared if conditions necessitated a lengthy stay in your car in sub-freezing temperatures?  Here is a list of items you should have in order to remain safe until help arrives, or the roads become passable again.

  • Bottled water
  • Nutritious, non-perishable snacks
  • Windshield scraper
  • Jumper cables
  • Cell phone and charger
  • First aid kit
  • Blankets / extra clothing
  • Properly inflated spare tire
  • Hazard triangle / safety flares
  • First aid kit
  • Road salt of kitty litter
  • Flashlight
  • Tow rope or chain

If you take prescription medications, it’s a good idea to carry an emergency supply in your purse, or glove compartment during the cold weather months.

Remember that in most cases, it’s safest to sit out the storm in your vehicle rather than abandoning it and striking out on foot.

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