Tips for driving in winter weather and what to do if you’re stranded

AAA says Friday is the day most travelers will hit the road for the Christmas weekend, and frigid temps will be with them.
Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 4:30 PM EST
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SCOTT COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - It is looking like it will be a clash between lots of cars and lots of cold in the next few days.

AAA says Friday is the day most travelers will hit the road for the Christmas weekend, and frigid temps will be with them. But what if you get stuck on the highway?

AAA Bluegrass public affairs manager Lori Weaver Hawkins says one in three Kentuckians will be traveling this holiday season.

More vehicles hitting the road means more chances for accidents and delays. Weaver Hawkins says you should have an emergency kit at the ready.

“You want to make sure that you have an ice scraper, a de-icer or snow broom, a shovel, make sure you have a heavy coat, hat and gloves,” said Weaver Hawkins.

Blankets, a first aid kit, a reflector vest(in case you need to get out of your vehicle) and kitty litter helps give you traction on your tires.

“Also, some snacks, some water both for your human passengers as well as if you’re bringing the family dog on the trip, make sure they have plenty of water,” said Weaver Hawkins.

Kentucky State Police is also offering tips on driving in winter weather ahead of the conditions expected for this weekend.

KSP says the best advice is to avoid unnecessary travel when winter weather is in your area, but have tips if you have to venture out.

  • Refrain from calling 911 for road or weather conditions due to high call volume. Telecommunicators need the lines open to assist callers who have emergencies.
  • Reduce speed in wintery conditions.
  • Leave early – allow more travel time; expect delays.
  • Increase distance between vehicles – the ability to stop is significantly affected on snow-covered or icy roadways.,
  • Clear all windows on your vehicle prior to travel – having unobstructed vision is vital to avoid running off of the road or having a collision.
  • Ensure your windshield washer fluid is full and that you use an anti-ice solution.
  • Turn on your vehicle’s headlamps. Remove any dirt, mud or snow from all vehicle lights.
  • Use caution on bridges and overpasses as they are susceptible to freezing before roadways.
  • Avoid using cruise control which can cause a vehicle’s wheels to continue turning on a slippery surface when speed needs to be decreased.
  • Ensure your vehicle has a full tank of gas in the event you are stranded for an extended period of time.
  • Charge your cellular phone prior to departure.
  • Always dress warmly and keep a blanket in the vehicle.
  • Carry a winter survival kit that includes items such as blankets, a first-aid kit, a can and waterproof matches (to melt snow for water), windshield scraper, booster cables, road maps, tool kit, bag of sand or cat litter (to pour on ice or snow for added traction), collapsible shovel, flashlight and extra batteries.

KSP is also offering tips for if you get stranded.

  • Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna as a signal to rescuers.
  • Move anything you need from the trunk into the passenger area.
  • Wrap your entire body in blankets or extra clothing, including your head.
  • Stay awake. You will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems.
  • Run the motor (and heater) for about 10 minutes per hour, opening one window slightly to let air in. Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe, as this will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to improve your circulation and stay warmer.
  • Do not eat un-melted snow. It will lower your body temperature.

Weaver Hawkins says AAA tow trucks will service several thousand central Kentucky customers during the holiday season.