Ready Set Snow!

AAA OFFERS DRIVING TIPS AND URGES MOTORISTS TO PREP CARS FOR WINTER WEATHER

winter driving tips

As we wake up to a wintry mix Friday morning, AAA is urging motorists to be especially careful on their commute and throughout the day, as snow is expected to continue throughout the day.

“Friday morning’s predicted snow fall mix will make for dangerous conditions on roadways for commuters going to and from work and school,” 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 traffic conditions.”

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.

AAA recommends that motorists check the following vehicle systems:

Battery: 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: Examine tires for tread depth, uneven wearing and cupping. Check tire pressures once a month when tires are cold, and before driving for any distance. In extreme climates, a set of snow tires in some climates may be a wise investment for winter driving safety.

Engine: Have any engine drivability problems corrected at a good repair shop. 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.

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 the snow:

  • 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.
  • Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
  • 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.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services.  Operating 19 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 aaa.com