Well it seems to happen to the best of us. We’re traveling through a snowstorm and before we know it, we end up in a ditch. So with winter starting up a little early this year, we wanted to go over a few steps to help to ensure that you stay safe the next time you skid off the highway.
According to the federal highway administration nearly 900 people are killed and 76 thousand are injured annually in vehicle crashes due to ice and snow covered roads. Sometimes it’s not the crash itself that does the harm, but the variables that come afterwards. That’s why it’s important to know that as soon as you find yourself off in a ditch; turn on your hazard lights, put on any extra clothes, and stay in your car, because it could be a while.
“Most important thing is remember stay inside the car. We don’t want you getting out. We don’t want you walking around. It could take several hours for a trooper to respond to help you out. Obviously we’re going to be handling calls in priority, so we’re going to be responding to accidents with injuries first and then vehicles that have slid off. Inside the vehicle is where it’s going to be the safest for you in case some else comes and hits that same slick spot.” – Trooper Joseph Rush, Safety Education Officer/Public Information Officer for District 10
While you’re waiting, the next step you’ll want to take is to make a call to someone to try to get out of the inclement weather and situation as quickly as possible.
“You can call the Illinois State Police. You can call 9-1-1. Let them know you have slid off the roadway and location. You can also contact your own tow. But if you do find yourself in a situation where you’ve called the state police and it’s been a while and something has changed. Your car has ran out of gas. It stopped working for some reason or you’re not feeling well, you can contact us again and we’re going to make sure to that we get someone out there. We want everyone to be safe on the roadways. If you choose to get a ride back into town from someone else, we want you to do let the Illinois State Police know that your vehicle is left here. What we’re going to do is we’re going to put it on a list to make sure that we know that that car has been checked and that there’s not somebody that’s still stranded inside that vehicle.” – Trooper Joseph Rush
At times though, there will be instances where you’ll have to get out of your vehicle to guard against carbon monoxide poisoning.
“If you believe that the tailpipe might be clogged with snow, it’s okay to exit the vehicle to make sure to clear that away, but we want you to be outside the vehicle as least as possible.” – Trooper Joseph Rush
Another tip, you can prolong the ability to use heat in your vehicle by periodically turning it off and on.
“We want you to be able to conserve that gas if need be. If you know you only have a quarter of a tank, we want you to use it sparingly. Could be several hours before someone gets to you.” – Trooper Joseph Rush
And probably the best tip.
“Obviously we want people to leave themselves time before the trip to go early. Making sure you have plenty of gas in the vehicle. Lots of supplies, water, blankets. Stay warm.” – Trooper Joseph Rush
And finally, anytime you’re heading out during this time of the year, you want to make sure to have the appropriate clothing on just in case anything happens.