Ross: Always have snacks in the car

Jan 5, 2022, 5:48 AM | Updated: 9:38 am
Vehicles remain stranded on southbound I-95 in Dumfries, Va., on Jan. 4, 2022. Hundreds of motorists waited for help Tuesday after a winter storm snarled traffic in Virginia and left some drivers stranded for nearly 24 hours in freezing temperatures along an impassable stretch of interstate. (Peter Cihelka/The Free Lance-Star via AP)
(Peter Cihelka/The Free Lance-Star via AP)

The most memorable road trip I ever took was in 1964, when Dad loaded all of us into the station wagon so we could try out the brand new interstate highway system.

It was easy to do back then – no car seats, no seat belts – just pile the kids into the Rambler, strap the luggage up top, grab a map and go.

And that year we drove from the New York suburbs to Tampa on the newly-built Interstate 95 – where over the weekend, this happened:

“We’ve been in the car for about 17, going on 18 hours,” one driver said.

“This was the nightmare on I-95. … Forty miles of Virginia interstate came to a standstill after more than a foot of snow blanketed the region,” CBS reports.

“There is nothing moving on Interstate 95.”

When I heard that story, I wondered – what would we have done? Five people, including three kids under 13, trapped in a Rambler.

“The only thing I ate was one orange, and the only liquid I had was one 16 ounce Dr Pepper.”

That was Senator Tim Kaine – highly-educated Harvard grad – stuck for 27 hours with an orange and Dr. Pepper. Worst pairing ever.

So how can this happen? Especially with all our weather computers and radar? Because unlike the airlines, which cancel flights rather than mess with a storm – states will almost never close an interstate highway until the highway closes itself. We let a bunch of people spin out, and then, once the highway is completely impassable, THEN we close it.

And step TWO of our emergency plan is … you’re on your own until the highway crews – which we know are understaffed – dig you out.

Until then, no one else is coming to help you.

I think we need to take this to heart.

I know it sounds paranoid – but I always have camp food, a sleeping bag, extra coats, a backpack, a tire pump, old newspapers as a fire-starter, and, of course, water bottles – and that’s just for my daily commute.

For longer trips, my number one safety tip is this: Since everybody’s got radar now, if you see a big storm approaching the highway you’re about to enter, unless you’re a member of Seal Team Six, turn around!

Because no one is coming to get you.

I apologize for being alarmist, but after surviving an entire childhood without seatbelts, car seats, airbags or crumple zones, I figure the cosmos wants its revenge.

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Ross: Always have snacks in the car