What to do when things go wrong on the road this winter

Posted at 2:40 PM, Jan 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-28 18:24:30-05

With poor road conditions at this time of year, we talk about how important it is to drive with extra caution. But what if things go wrong?

Montana Highway Patrol has a few tips if you find yourself stuck on the side of the road. First, stay calm, remain where you are, and stay in your car.

Being in the car is the safest place for somebody that’s stuck on the side of the road, whether they’re stuck on the shoulder or down further in the ditch, according to MHP Trooper Derek Stoner.

Being out on the roadway can be extremely dangerous.

“Even with emergency lights on, there can be secondary crashes at a current crash scene and the car will protect you should another car slide into it,” Stoner said. “Wear your seatbelt while you’re in the car still; that way if you’re car does get hit and shoved farther off into the ditch, you’re not moving around inside of it as it’s doing that.”

Just in case you do have a problem on the side of the road, it’s important to keep some key items in the back of your car, just in case something were to happen.

Keep a first-aid kit handy. You also need blankets and extra clothing to keep warm, and it’s also a good idea because you could be waiting for a while to have snacks and water just in case.

There are a few circumstances where getting out of your car may be safer.

“Obviously, if the car is on its side or upside down or something like that happens, it’s probably best to get out of the car. Obviously, it’s never good to be in a car if it’s smoking. There’s a potential that it could start a fire; you don’t want to be in the car for that.” Stoner said.

Stoner added that if you do need to get out of your vehicle, it’s best to get as far from the roadway as possible.

“If you have to get out of the car, if you can increase the distance between you and the roadway that’s going to be helpful as well,” he said.

MHP also reminds us to move over and slow down when you see emergency or towing vehicles stopped on the shoulder.

Reporting by Carson Vickroy for MTN News