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AAA offers winter weather driving tips

snowThe few inches of snow in the forecast could create a big headache for commuters tomorrow morning.  Even though some areas of Central Virginia may only get an inch or two, the timing of the snowfall, in the height of rush hour, is cause for concern.

“Motorists should heed travel warnings and stay home unless they absolutely must venture out,” said Tammy Arnette, Senior Public Affairs Specialist for AAA. “AAA is reminding anyone who must drive on snow covered roads to adjust their driving behaviors for the conditions and to avoid going anywhere – not even a short distance – without a full tank of gas, a fully charged cell phone and a fully stocked emergency roadside kit.”

Hazardous storms and inclement weather are a factor in more than half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter, according to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. AAA is encouraging drivers to be prepared. White knuckle driving on slick roads often intensifies when roadways have increased traffic, especially during rush hour.

AAA safe driving tips for slick or icy roadways

  • Slow down: accelerate, turn and brake gradually. Adjust your speed to the road conditions and leave yourself ample room to stop. Allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  • Do not tailgate: normal following distances of three to four seconds on dry pavement should be extended to a minimum of eight to ten seconds when driving on slippery surfaces. The extra time will provide additional braking room should a sudden stop become necessary.
  • Watch the traffic ahead: slow down immediately at the sight of brake lights, fishtailing cars, sideways skids or emergency flashers ahead.
  • Never use cruise control on slippery roads: patches of ice can cause unexpected wheel spin and use of cruise control can slow driver response.
  • Avoid unnecessarily changing lanes: this increases the chances of hitting a patch of ice between lanes that could cause loss of vehicle control.
  • Use extreme caution on bridges and overpasses: black ice typically forms first in shaded areas of the roadway and on bridges and overpasses that freeze first and melt last. Although the road leading up to a bridge may be fine, the bridge itself could be a sheet of ice.
  • Move Over: move over one lane for law enforcement and emergency roadside personnel assisting motorists. It is the law. If you are unable to move over, slow down.
  • Carry a winter weather kit in your car: contents should include a fully charged cellphone (and car charger), ice scraper, blanket, warm winter clothing, flashlight with extra batteries, jumper cables, a bag of kitty litter, reflective triangles/flares, shovel and cloth/paper towels.

AAA tips for braking on snow and ice

  • Minimize the need to brake on ice: if you’re approaching a stop sign, traffic light or other area where ice often forms, brake early on clear pavement to reduce speed. Maintaining control of your vehicle is much more difficult when braking on ice-covered roadways.
  • Control the skid: in the event of a skid, ease off the accelerator and steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go.
  • If your car has an anti-lock braking system (ABS): do not remove your foot from the brake during a skid. When you apply the brakes hard enough to make the wheels lock momentarily, you will typically feel the brake pedal vibrate and pulsate back against your foot. This is normal and the system is working as designed. Do not release pressure on the pedal or attempt to “pump” the brakes.
  • If your car does not have an anti-lock braking system: keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to modulate the pressure applied to the brake pedal so the brakes are at the “threshold” of lockup but still rotating.

AAA tips when icing conditions affect vehicles

  • Ice coated windshield/windows: NEVER pour hot water on windshield or windows, this can cause the glass to break. Use vehicle defrosters to melt ice for easier removal. Don’t use windshield wipers to remove ice – this will damage the blades.
  • Frozen windows: do not continue to push the power window buttons if the window is frozen, it can damage the mechanics inside the door and can also cause the window to break.
  • Frozen locks: never use water to thaw frozen locks, instead use commercial deicing products or heat the key and lock with a hair dryer. A lighter can also be used to heat the key.
  • Frozen windshield wipers: If windshield wipers are frozen to the windshield, use the heater and defroster to melt the ice before turning the windshield wipers on. When you arrive at your destination remember to pull the windshield wipers away from the windshield to prevent refreezing.

FREE BATTERY CHECKS: AAA offers FREE battery checks for members and non-members at all of our AAA Car Care Centers (visit AAA.com for to find a AAA Car Care Center near you).

AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than one million members in Virginia.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  AAA is a not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android.  For more information, visit www.AAA.com.

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