AAA: Motorists Should Prepare Ahead of Winter Storm to Bring First Measurable Snow to Region in Nearly Two Years

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A winter storm is expected to wreak havoc throughout the region this weekend, bringing the first measurable snow to some areas for the first time in nearly two years. Snow, rain and wind are expected beginning Saturday late afternoon and into the early hours of Sunday morning. AAA urges motorists to prepare ahead by checking car batteries and tires, filling up the gas tank and packing a vehicle emergency kit.

“AAA urges motorists to use the calm before the storm over the next few days to prepare their vehicles by checking car batteries and tires, filling up their gas tanks and packing a vehicle emergency kit,” said Jana L. Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “No one ever plans to get stuck. Preparation can make all the difference, not just ahead of this weekend’s storm, but for the rest of the winter driving season.”

Winter Vehicle Preparations
• Batteries – have a trusted mechanic check your car battery for optimum strength. When the air temperature is 32 degrees, a battery’s starting power drops 35 percent.
• Tires – check for tire pressure and tread depth. For every 10-degree drop in temperature, tires can lose 1 pound of air pressure.
• Make sure your windshield wipers and lights (headlights, taillights, turn signals) are working properly – make sure you can see and can be seen
• Top off washer fluid
• Keep a FULL tank of gas

Winter Vehicle Emergency Kit
Motorists are advised to pack a winter emergency kit now to stow in the trunk of their vehicle to have immediately available should the need arise. More than 40 percent of motorists do not carry an emergency kit in their vehicle, cautions AAA.

• Emergency kit items to include – deicer, shovel, ice scraper, sand or kitty litter (for traction)
• Pack a blanket, extra gloves and hat, heavy coat – if you’re stuck on the road for an extended period of time you’ll need to stay warm, especially if your vehicle is not running
• Pack snacks, beverages, etc. – have them packed by the door to take in the morning (so they don’t freeze in the car overnight)
• Charge your cell phone – have a backup power source for the car in case you’re stuck for a while
Winter Weather Driving
Driving in snow always comes with a learning curve. If you have to be out on the roads, remember to drive with caution and give road crews plenty of room to do their job safely. AAA anticipates an increase in emergency roadside service calls as the wintry weather sweeps through and road conditions deteriorate, with slide-offs and crashes due to slick roads, battery/non-start problems and flat tires the main culprits.

Hazardous storms and inclement weather are a factor in an average of nearly half a million crashes and more than 2,200 traffic crash deaths nationwide every winter, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. On average, about one-third (32%) of crashes during the winter occur in adverse weather or road surface conditions according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

“AAA urges motorists to use caution if driving in snow and ice,” noted Tidwell. “The key to arriving safely is to clean off your vehicle, slow down and leave plenty of extra room between you and the cars around you.”

AAA Mid-Atlantic advises motorists to be cautious when driving in winter conditions and offers the following safety tips:

• Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in winter conditions, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate. Stay home until crews can properly clear roadways.
• 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 and Accelerate and decelerate slowly. 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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 downhill slowly.

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