Snow Strands Hundreds of Motorists on Alabama Highways

The southeastern states were hit by a winter storm last weekend that dropped as much as four inches of snow and wreaked havoc for travelers on Alabama roadways.

Motorists on Interstate 65 in northern Alabama were stuck in a huge traffic jam that extended eight or more miles.  Hundreds of motorists spent a cold night in their vehicles after the snow caused a series of wrecks and vehicles lost traction on a stretch of the interstate known as Lacon Mountain, approximately fifty miles north of Birmingham in Cullman County.

One motorist stuck in the snow, said he spent fourteen hours stuck in his vehicle and bided the time by playing “Words with Friends” and listening to NPR programs.  He also stated that other stranded motorists turned off their cars, built snowmen, and other activities to pass the time.

By Friday, the temperature was back into the forties, and traffic was once again flowing freely, though the highway was littered with abandoned and wrecked cars.

Although the storm had been predicted for days, it appeared the highway department was not prepared for the storm and the snow it brought. However, Tony Harris, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Transportation, stated the department was prepared for the storm, but did not anticipate the large number of wrecks on the state’s roadways. 

The  National Highway Transportation Safety Administration suggests motorists follow these tips for safe winter driving:

  • Start the season off properly by having your car serviced before cold or snowy weather is here.
  • Check you battery, for when the temperature drops, so does battery power.
  • Check your cooling system. 
  • Fill your windshield washer reservoir.
  • Check your windshield wipers and defrosters.
  • Inspect tires.
  • Know how to drive properly in snowy or icy conditions, which means knowing how to use antilock brakes and how to steer your vehicle if you find yourself in a skid.
  • Stock your car with a snow shovel, broom, ice scraper, abrasive material for when you get stuck in the snow, jumper cables, flashlight, flares, blankets for protection from the cold, a cell phone with charger, and food and water.
  • Know what to do in a winter emergency.  If you are stalled in wintry weather, stay with your car; place bright markers on the antenna or windows; and to avoid carbon monoxide asphyxiation, do not run your car for long periods of times with either the windows up or in an enclosed space.

By following these safety tips and using common sense when driving in wintry conditions,  motorists on Alabama’s highways should be prepared and be safe for winter driving.