‘People can be trapped in their cars’ means…?

I’ve got a paragraph and a question following:

…Snow can cause damage too. It can cave in the roof of a building. A
heavy snowstorm can delay airplane flights and cause automobile
accidents. Farm animals sometimes die in snowstorms, and when country
roads are closed by the snow, people can be trapped in their cars and
freeze to death…

In the passage, “people can be trapped in their cars” means:

a. they are caught in a trap
b. they are stuck in their cars
c. they can't go out of their cars and drive away
d. all are correct

The dictionary tells that a ‘trap’ is ‘an unpleasant or difficult situation’. Therefore, I choose d. since all answers seem to be correct. However, the solution is only c without further explanation.

Could you explain why the solution is c. in this question?


I would have picked (b) as well, but I think I can see what the quiz designers were trying to say.

First, what Macmillan says about the word trap:

trap (v.) to prevent someone from leaving a place, especially a dangerous place : Both men were trapped inside the burning car.

In the snow, however, people aren’t usually trapped inside the car. The driver and passengers can freely get out and walk around, but the car is unable to move, usually because the tires can’t get sufficient traction. The situation looks something like this:

car stuck in the snow

So, the car is stuck, not the people.

That said, the problem with this poorly-designed language question is this: it’s very common for native English speakers to say, “Can you come pick me up? I’m stuck in the snow” even when they mean that their vehicle is stuck. In other words:

I’m stuck in my car.

is a perfectly normal way to convey:

I’m in my car, and my car is stuck.

As for people freezing to death in their cars, that’s a very real danger, which is why many cold climes urge drivers to carry a winter survival kit in their car.

So, if the answers had been worded more like this:

a. they are caught in a trap
b. they cannot get out of their cars
c. they can’t drive away in their cars
d. all are correct

then I would say that answer (c) is correct. I suspect that’s what the quiz designers were trying to get across, but they did as bad a job writing this question as some counties do plowing their roads.

Source : Link , Question Author : doquan0 , Answer Author : J.R.

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