In a perfect world, a driver would pack the car away with the beach chairs and swimsuits and back it out of the garage following the spring thaw. Unfortunately, motorists must adapt their driving style to the challenges of each season. AAA offers some winter driving tips to help drivers navigate on ice and snow.
“One of the biggest misconceptions is people think the roadway is wet when it’s actually ice,” AAA Safety Advisor Terri Rae Anthony said. “The problem is that they are driving too fast to safely adjust their speed when they realize they are on ice. Drivers should generally drive slower when the temperatures are around the freezing point,” she added.
As the temperatures drop, drivers should increase the amount of space between their car and others on the road so that they have time to safely react to an emergency situation.
AAA says the best thing to do if you lose control of your car is to remain calm, and turn in the direction you want your car to go. Stay in control of the skid.
Preventative Maintenance is Important
Windows- Make sure windows are free of dirt and grime and keep your windshield wiper reservoir full at all times. Replace windshield wipers and fluid.
Headlights- Clean your headlights so that you can see, and be seen by others.
Tires- Cold weather reduces tire inflation pressure so check pressure frequently to maintain the recommended pressure on the driver’s door jamb. Make sure your spare tire also has the correct air pressure.
Battery- Once your battery reaches three years old; have it tested by your repair facility. During harsh winter conditions have your battery checked once a month.
Locks- If locks are frozen, spray with graphite spray or de-icer.
Emergency Roadside Kit For Winter- should include a cell phone and car charger, blankets, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first aid kit, food and water, a small shovel, a sack of sand, cat litter or traction mats, windshield scraper and brush, battery booster cables and emergency flares or reflectors.
What to do if you Break Down on the Road
Call for help. Let someone know where you are, then wait for the plows to clear the roads or emergency vehicles to rescue you.
AAA recommends that members download the AAA mobile app to their smart phones.
Stay with your car. Don’t overexert yourself; cover up with a blanket from your emergency kit.
Make your car visible. If you can, put bright markers on the antenna or windows and keep the interior dome light turned on.
Don’t run car for long periods. To avoid asphyxiation from carbon monoxide poisoning, don’t run your car to get heat for long periods with the windows up or in an enclosed space. Limit yourself to about 10 minutes every hour, just long enough to stay warm. If you do run your vehicle, be sure to clear the exhaust pipe of any snow first.
Listen to weather reports before leaving on a trip, if extreme weather is expected it’s better to postpone any drive.
At night, keep your interior dome light on.
Driving on Slippery or Wet Roads
Adjust your driving habits as road conditions change. Easy on the gas and easy on the brake. Nearly one-quarter of weather related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement.
Drive distraction free. Looking away from the road for even two seconds doubles your chance of a crash.
Do not use cruise control. Avoiding using cruise control allows you to respond instantly when you take your foot off the gas.
Do not tailgate. Normal following distances should be increased significantly (8-10 seconds) when driving on icy roads. This will give you more time to react if you have to come to a complete stop.
Drive on the clearest lane. When on a four lane highway, drive in the lane that has the least amount of snow and ice. Avoid changing lanes and driving over snow buildup.
Know when to brake and when to steer. When traveling over 25 MPH, AAA recommends steering over braking, as less distance if required to steer around an object than to brake to a stop. In slick conditions, sudden braking can lead to loss of vehicle control.
Always look 20-30 seconds ahead so that you can plan your stops.
AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 82 local offices in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and New York servicing 2.7 million members.