Colder Weather Leaving Drivers Stranded

RENO, Nev. - The colder weather is making driving more difficult, and it's not because of the slick roads.

The Nevada Highway Patrol responded to more than a dozen driver assistance calls Monday morning. Many of the drivers running out of gas, or finding themselves with a flat tire.

The Freeway Service Patrol spends all day driving up and down the freeways in Reno and Sparks, looking for drivers who need assistance.

They give drivers a gallon of gas, or a tire change, free of charge. And they are offering more help now that the temperatures are dropping.

Most of the time assistance will come shortly after you call for help, but waiting for the help to arrive can be dangerous in these temperatures.

"In these bitterly cold mornings, it doesn't take long for a motorist sitting in a vehicle that's stranded-no heat no ability to stay warm-it doesn't take long for that person to get cold," Trooper Chuck Allen said.

But keeping up on your car's maintenance can help prevent disasters.

"Start with the tires," Trooper Allen said. "Make sure they're properly inflated, [and] the tread is sufficient."

This will help prevent flat tires; keeping you from venturing in the cold to put on a spare.

Trooper Allen says they NHP is also seeing many cars break down because there's not enough antifreeze in them. It's important, especially in the areas seeing negative degree temperatures to keep the antifreeze levels full. If they run low and you only add water, it can end up freezing in the system.

Perhaps the most common sense way to protect yourself from ending up on the side of the road is to make sure you have plenty of gas.

"You never know when you're going to be stalled due to another wreck or another hindrance on the highway," Trooper Allen said.

A full tank of gas will also help on the icy roads. If your car is a rear-wheel drive, the weight from a full tank of gas will provide better traction when the road conditions get a little slick.

Of course it makes sense it you're car breaks down to call for help, but the NHP is asking every driver to report a stranded car. Trooper Allen says they'd rather receive multiple calls for one car, than none at all.

"We're standing out here right now and I don't have a coat on and it's cold," Trooper Allen said. "If this was me stranded, I'd sure like someone to check up on me."

If you do experience a break down, try to move your car as far to the right of the freeway as possible. If your car breaks down in the middle of the freeway, Trooper Allen says to put on the hazards, safely exit your car, and try to warn other motorists. If you notice your low on fuel try to travel in the right lane in case you run out before you can fill up.

It's also a good idea to have blankets and extra coats in your car to keep you warm in case you are waiting for help without heat.

To call for assistance dial *NHP or (775) 687-0400. That will put you in contact with NHP Dispatch.