SALT LAKE CITY — Icy road conditions this month have led to hundreds of crashes on the freeway, leaving many motorists stranded on the side of the road.
Whether you're stranded because your car has broken down or because you've been in an accident, there are things you can do to make sure you are prepared. The Utah State Fire Marshal urges people to remember safety is the top priority.
Part of handling an emergency safely is being prepared, according to the fire marshal. Along with making sure your vehicle is properly maintained, you should keep safety tools in your vehicle at all times, including:
- Safety triangle reflectors
- Flash/Emergency lights with batteries (Separate batteries)
- Tire sealant
- First aid kit
- Five-pound fire extinguisher
- Battery charge cables
- Tow strap or cable
- Simple tool set
A charged cellphone and emergency preparedness items such as warm clothing, food and reading materials also come in handy.
When your vehicle starts having problems, immediately turn on your hazard lights,a nd maneuver to the right side of the road, if possible.
"A freeway breakdown could be as simple as a tire blowout or your car dies, but whatever the situation, your hazard lights will let other drivers around you know that your vehicle is having trouble and help give them time to slow down and prepare for your vehicle's resulting outcome and position," according to the fire marshal.
As you bring your car to a stop, keep your seatbelt on and your doors locked, and call for help.
One possibility is the Utah Department of Transportation's Incident Management Team, which is responsible for responding to freeway incidents such as accidents and stalled or abandoned vehicles. Available in Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties, the team can be reached in an emergency by calling 911.
If you are involved in an accident and your car is drivable, a law passed in November requires drivers to drive to the nearest exit. If your car is not driveable, stay in the car with the doors locked and call 911.
The Utah Highway Patrol reminds drivers that simple repairs and tire changes are OK to do on the side of the road; for bigger repairs, a tow truck should be called.
Most importantly, use common sense.
"Do not stand by the side of the freeway to flag down a motorist," states a document posted online by the Department of Public Safety. "Because you are stranded on the highway does not mean people will see you're there or avoid hitting you."
Video contribution: Devon Dolan