COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Missouri State Highway Patrol says it's safest for drivers to stay in their vehicles with seat belts on if they slide off the road.
Authorities say they often see more than one vehicle lose control in the same, slick spot during winter storms, causing a vehicle pileup.
"We have worked many crashes where several vehicles lose control at the same spot and we’ve had several people injured or killed due to other crashes that occur at the same location," Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Scott White said.
Troopers says drivers who slide off the road should try to get out of the ditch but if they are stuck call should call *55 and troopers will report as soon as possible.
"It helps to have emergency vehicles on the scene so people know to slow down just a little bit more and it could also offer protection if they’re in the ditch," White said.
Secondary crashes are on the patrol's radar during winter weather because troopers want to open up the traffic and keep the roadway clear.
"Many times we see where it may be a minor event, a slide-off, maybe someone blocking the roadway," White said. "Then we get those large pile-ups or several vehicles crash into that stopped traffic so it's definitely a priority to get the roadway open."
When there are traffic backups emergency responders will often drive up the shoulder of the road to get to the crash ahead, but sometimes they have no choice other than to drive down the middle.
White encourages drivers to pay attention if they're stuck in traffic.
"Look for those lights and if you can move over even if it’s just a few feet," White said.
The patrol said during the crash on the Interstate 70 bridge near Rocheport last week emergency vehicles had to drive backward on the interstate because of the large traffic backup.
Troopers say it's extremely important for drivers to have emergency kits in their cars, especially during winter weather. Food, water and blankets are essentials that should be packed.
Jumper cables and a phone charger are also important in case drivers are stuck in a traffic standstill for many hours.