Stranded drivers in Virginia a reminder to prepare ahead of the winter storm


ST. LOUIS – It’s a winter scene nobody wants to see: hundreds of drivers were stranded for nearly twenty-four hours in the cold and snow along Interstate 95 in Virginia. The stretch became impassable when tractor-trailers jackknifed, triggering other crashes and slide-offs. Many of the stranded ran out of gas and food.

The scene out east will remind some St. Louisans of 2019, when snow fell fast and heavy on Jan. 11. Numerous accidents caused snowplows and emergency crews to get stuck behind lines of stopped cars. And in 2016, a freezing drizzle on Dec. 16 tripled and quadrupled commute times as crashes brought the evening drive to a halt.

From a light glaze of ice to the biggest dump of snow, you may have to spend some time in your car during the winter months. Make sure your car is ready. Check the wiper fluid level and tire pressure. Fill up your gas tank.

“We recommend, during the winter months, don’t let your gas tank go below half a tank,” says Nick Chabarria, a AAA spokesperson for their St. Louis regional office. “In case you get stuck somewhere, you want to be able to stay warm.”

And don’t forget your car batteries. Cold temperatures will zap the life out of failing batteries, leaving you unable to start your car.

“So, if your battery is around three years old, we really recommend getting it tested. That can determine of you need a new battery or not.”

During the winter stock your car with some basics, a blanket, gloves, flashlight, ice scraper, phone charger, bottled water, and snacks.

“Things that are going to help you in case you do get stranded, or, for example, if your battery dies, and you are stuck waiting for help for a while, you are going to be able to stay warm and stay comfortable until assistance arrives.

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