The recent spring-like weather may have you feeling carefree but AAA is reminding drivers that winter is still upon us and the threat of slick roadways is still very real.
A mix of rain and snow, coupled with wind and much colder temperatures arrives tonight into tomorrow, making for a potentially slippery Friday morning commute.
“Sometimes the slipperiest and most dangerous roads only have a light coating of snow” says Amy Parmenter, spokesperson for AAA in greater Hartford. “Even though it comes on the heels of some delightfully warm weather, it’s important that drivers don’t discount what is at risk and take precautions accordingly”.
Just a coating of snow led to a multi-car pile up on I-91 earlier in the season.
With that in mind, AAA is urging motorists to be alert, aware and allow extra time Friday morning.
Each year, over 1,300 people are killed and more than 116,800 people are injured in vehicle crashes on snowy, slushy, or icy pavements.
AAA advises motorists to be cautious when driving in winter conditions and offers the following safety tips:
- Remove all snow from vehicle, including roof, hood, and trunk. While driving, snow can blow off a car onto the windshield of a nearby vehicle, temporary blinding that driver’s vision. (PA law requires motorists to clean their cars off completely so snow and ice do not dislodge while driving)
- Slow down. 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. Accelerate, turn and brake gradually.
- Do not tailgate. Normal following distances of three to four seconds on dry pavement should be a minimum of five to six 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, skidding vehicles or emergency flashers.
- Bridges and overpasses freeze first and melt last. Use extra caution as the roadway leading to the bridge may appear fine but the bridge itself could be a sheet of ice.
- Never use cruise control on slippery roads, as you lose the ability to transfer more weight to the front tire by simply lifting off the accelerator. A driver should always be in full control of their vehicle during poor road conditions.
- Avoid unnecessary lane changes. This increases the chances of hitting a patch of ice between lanes that could cause loss of vehicle traction.
- Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads may only result in spinning your wheels. 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 downhill as slowly as possible.
- Don’t stop going up a hill. It’s difficult to move up a hill on an icy road. If possible, get your vehicle moving on a flat roadway first before taking on a hill.
- 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. Vehicle control is much more difficult when braking on ice-covered roadways.
- Control the skid. Slamming on the brakes can make the skid even worse. In the event of a skid, take your foot off of the brake or accelerator, continue to look and steer where you want to go. Then begin to accelerate slowly.
- Do not brake and turn at the same time. Asking your vehicle to do two things at a time makes it more likely that your tires will lose traction. Brake first, then turn, then accelerate.
- Know your brakes. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS) and need to slow down quickly, press hard on the pedal. It’s normal for the pedal to vibrate a bit when the ABS is activated.
Finally, always have an emergency car kit in your vehicle. In the winter, this kit should include: a bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats, snow shovel, flashlight with extra batteries, window washer solvent, ice scraper with brush, jumper cables, extra warm clothing (gloves, hats, scarves), blankets, warning devices (flares or triangles), drinking water, non-perishable snacks for both human and pet passengers, first-aid kit, basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench), a mobile phone pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers including family and emergency services and charger.
For more winter driving tips, including a downloadable guide to How to Go on Ice and Snow, visit http://exchange.aaa.com/safety/roadway-safety/winter-driving-tips/
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CT Mailing Address:
815 Farmington Avenue
West Hartford, CT 06119
AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and more than one million members in Connecticut. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The 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 for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.aaa.com.