Heat in the engine is one example of a malfunction that can allow you to keep on driving, given there is a safe stopping place available within a few hundreds of meters (and there might be situations where there aren't). Using the heating can help dissolve heat that originates from the engine cooling system. A stalled, stopped car can be moved by the force of the starter too.
If you do stop, just get beyond the guardrail, and a few good feet away from it too. Modern guardrails have a certain "effective range" in which the tin can flex, and the cars can also flip over it. If there is some cover, like a pole -- it's worthwhile standing behind, and in a direction which the car is not likely to be projected towards if hit.
The danger, by the way, is a result of a so-called "archer effect" (not sure about the exact English terminology) which describes a tendency of our eyes to "lead" us. Ever looked in the right-wing mirror and found you have swerved right slightly? So people glance at standing automobiles, out of curiosity and bang!
I asked someone who had a better look at the leak. He said it was too severe for any type of stop-leak fluid, but it could have been repaired with pliers, if it was reachable. Since he couldn't reach it, we were stuck. The other option I did not think of until now is he could have towed the van with his truck to the next highway exit, but at that time the bigger priority was getting my brother to college. We did not expect to be waiting such a long time.
Realistically, I would not even consider driving an overheated engine. I can't afford an engine rebuild or replacement. If it needs radiator repair, I park it there and have it towed home. If it needs more than that, it's probably not worth the insurance while it sits unused in my driveway.
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