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Ready Set Snow!


winter safety kit

As many New Englanders wake up to the first snowfall of the season Friday morning, AAA is urging motorists to be especially careful on their commute and throughout the day.

“Friday morning’s predicted wintery mix will make for dangerous conditions on roadways,” said Pat Moody, manager of public affairs for AAA Northern New England. “Budget extra time, extra space, take it slow, and keep a vigilant eye on the conditions.”

Pat Moody Interview and tire tread depth B-Roll

AAA is also advising drivers that this is a good time for a seasonal checkup of key vehicle systems in advance of the cold weather and winter driving conditions to minimize breakdowns. Harsh winter conditions make a vehicle work harder, particularly the charging and starting system, headlights, tires and windshield wipers. AAA’s emergency roadside service is prepared for tomorrow’s weather, as AAA crews anticipate aiding members for dead batteries, flat tires, and with tows.

In 2019, AAA responded to over half a million service calls, assisting disabled vehicles in Northern New England, including 117,888 battery related calls for help. Out of those 117,856 battery calls, AAA Technicians replaced 19,200 Batteries.

AAA recommends that motorists check the following vehicle systems:

Battery:   The average life of a battery is 3-5 years, but driving conditions, climate, and lack of care and maintenance can shorten a battery’s lifespan.  Clean any corrosion from battery posts and cable connections and wash all surfaces with battery terminal cleaner or a solution of baking soda and water. Have the battery checked by a professional to ensure it is strong enough to face cold weather.

Tires: Check tire inflation pressure on all four tires and the spare more frequently during colder temperatures. As the average temperature drops, so will tire pressures – typically by one PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The proper tire pressure levels can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker typically located on the driver’s side door jamb. Ample tread depth is also vital to safe winter driving. Studded snow tires provide the best traction but if you budget doesn’t allow for a winter set of tires then an all-season tire with good tread is the next best.

Engine: Symptoms like hard starts, rough idling, stalling or diminished power could signal a problem that would be exacerbated by cold weather. Engine hoses and belts should be inspected for wear or cracking.

Fluids: Important system fluids such as engine coolant/anti-freeze, transmission and brake fluid should be checked and changed at recommended intervals.

Brakes: Inspect brakes as recommended in your owner’s manual, or sooner if you notice pulsations, pulling, noises while braking or longer stopping distance. Correct minor brake problems promptly.

Wipers: Replace worn windshield-wiper blades. If driving in harsh climates, purchase one-piece beam-type or rubber-clad “winter” blades to fight snow and ice build-up. Use cold-weather windshield washer solvent that won’t freeze and carry an ice-scraper and snow brush.

Lights: Inspect all lights and bulbs and replace burned out bulbs. Clean road grime or clouding from all lenses.  Dirt and grime on headlight lenses can significantly reduce their effectiveness, and you’ll want your lights working properly to offset diminished visibility caused by winter storms.

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 and offers the below tips.

Tips for driving in snow and ice:

  • Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
  • Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down hill as slowly as possible.
  • Avoid using cruise control so you have a better feel for the traction of the tires.
  • If you find yourself in a skid…. look and steer in the direction you want the car to go.
  • Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
  • Buckle up and drive distraction free!

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 61 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services.  Operating 18 offices throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, AAA Northern New England is a not-for-profit, fully tax-paying corporation and serves as an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.  AAA Northern New England can be visited on the Internet at   

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AAA Northern New England is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.