February 12, 2021
By News Director Jared Atha
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is encouraging residents to stay home during the upcoming winter weather event. Starting on Sunday, OHP is discouraging any travel because of the dangerous conditions that will be caused by the winter storm.
OHP is partnering with the Oklahoma National Guard to have Stranded Motorist Assist Response Teams (SMART) ready to assist stranded motorists if needed. OHP says these teams will be placed strategically throughout the interstate system Sunday through Wednesday. OHP will have teams on I-44, I-40 and I-35.
The teams will consist of 8 to 10 national guardsmen and troopers with three to four national guard vehicles and one to two troopers. The teams will respond as a convoy to any emergencies. They will have equipment to remove vehicles from roadways but their main goal will be to rescue any stranded motorists and get them to a warm and safe location.
This is a joint effort between the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Oklahoma National Guard, Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.
OHP says despite this effort, there is not enough personnel to be in all places across the state at once. Depending on the conditions and the call volume, it could take a team several hours to get to a stranded motorist.
That is why OHP is asking everyone to stay home. If you absolutely have to get out, let others know your planned route and expected arrival time. Check brakes, wipers, fluids and tire pressure. Pack warm clothing, blankets, flashlight, ice scraper, sand or cat litter, jumper cables, non-perishable food and drinking water. Charge your phone before you go and take a charging cord with you.
Allow extra time for your drive. Slow down and avoid distractions. And as always, make sure to buckle up.
Beginning Friday afternoon, OHP and ODOT will be working to remove abandoned vehicles already on the shoulders of highways. This will make it easier to identify stranded motorists who actually need assistance over the coming days.