However, snow also brings with it dangerous and deadly consequences for drivers who take a chance on the roads. The recent blizzard that blanketed the East Coast, although meteorologists gave repeated warnings to drivers to stay off the road, left many drivers stuck on highways that were closed because of the snow or accidents. Between Dec. 18 and Dec. 20, Virginia State Police got 3,000 calls, regarding disabled vehicles, stuck in snow. In at least two of the four fatal crashes in the state, as a result of the blizzard, drivers lost control of the vehicles and were not wearing seatbelts. The 68-year-old woman and a 36-year-old man were thrown from the vehicle upon impact. “There’s no one single theory as to why people don’t wear seatbelts but everyone should understand the purpose of the seatbelt,” says Virginia State Police spokesperson, Corinne Geller. “Seatbelts are there to hold you in place, no matter what happens to your vehicle,” she adds.
Even more severe weather is predicted for the next few days across the East Coast and is expected to flow right into the holiday highway rush. According to AAA, nearly 80 million drivers will travel at least an hour or more, during this holiday season. It is without question that a lot of those drivers will have children onboard. While your time on the road may differ slightly more or less than someone else, if you have children in the vehicle with you, there are safety precautions you should not ignore. For some, it’s no big deal to let your child fall asleep on someone’s lap or take a nap on the floor of an SUV or minivan but that’s a temptation you should ignore and use your better judgment, according to Geller. “I can’t tell you how many accidents our officers have investigated, where they have to tell parents their children did not survive the crash,” says Geller.
Wearing a seatbelt isn’t the only safety precaution drivers should consider before taking off to get to grandma’s house for Christmas or the New Year. As you pack your suitcase and holiday gifts, AAA and Virginia State Police recommend a few vital items no one should be on the road without, especially in the winter.
• Flashlight with fresh batteries
• Booster cables
• Warning device, such as flares or reflective triangle
• Small bag of abrasive material, such as sand or cat litter
• Cloth or a roll of paper towels
• Small shovel
• Cell phone
• Can of de-icer
• Ice scraper
• Cell phone car charger
• Get plenty of rest before the trip
• Bottled Water
• Snow Boots
• Booster/Car seat for children
You can call #77 from your cell phone for help if you have trouble in Virginia. You can also check Virginia road conditions by calling 511 from your cell phone.