Drivers beware. With bitter cold temperatures settling in over a big chunk of the country, highway officials are warning people to stay off slick roads and, if they must go out, take extra care when getting behind the wheel.
Sgt. Mike Watson, of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said drivers should prepare before leaving their homes.
Some of his tips:
— Make sure cellphones are charged, and bring a charger.
— Fill up the gas tank. Stash booster cables, blankets, flashlights and an ice scrapper in the car.
— Put a bag of sand or cat litter in the trunk, in case needed for traction if stuck in ice.
If you do get stuck on the road, call for help, he said. And while waiting inside a running vehicle, make sure tailpipes are clear from obstructions.
One other important suggestion from Watson: Stranded motorists should stay inside their vehicles while they wait for help. It could make it easier for emergency crews to find stranded drivers and it provides shelter, he said.
"If you start walking, especially in a storm, you could get lost fairly quickly, depending on the visibility. Don't overexert yourself whether to push or dig your vehicle out of the snow. You can always tie a cloth or some brightly colored item to your vehicle," he said.
Randy Ort, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Highway Transportation, has one other tip for drivers if they get stuck on a highway: Try to move over to the shoulder.
"If they do find themselves where the vehicle cannot go — we do ask that they do the best job to get it out of the travel lane," he said.