Winter driving tips from AAA

The winter weather predicted for the weekend will likely cause problems on the roads for area drivers.  AAA advises motorists to play it safe and limit trips when the weather turns bad.  Drivers who do venture out on the roads should keep three things in mind to help make necessary trips a little smoother: slow down, increase following distance and allow more time to reach destinations.  Be prepared and know what to do before leaving home and once out on the roads.

Before heading out:

  • Check highway road conditions and reports and postpone trips as appropriate.
  • Clean ice and snow off wipers, windshield and all windows.
  • Keep fuel tank full to avoid running out of gas and getting stuck on the side of the road.
  • Always carry emergency supplies, such as a AAA car care kit, boots, shovel, blanket, snacks and water.  Make sure cell phones are charged in case or an emergency.

Driving on slippery streets:

  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Reduced traction causes simple maneuvers, such as accelerating, stopping and turning, to take longer on snow-covered roads.
  • Increase following distance to 8-10 seconds.
  • Know your brakes. If the vehicle is not equipped with an antilock braking system, pump the brakes.  If the vehicle has ABS, don't pump, break with firm pressure.
  • Don't power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads causes wheels to spin. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce the speed and proceed downhill as slowly as possible.

In case of an emergency:

  • Pull off the road onto level ground, away from traffic as safely as possible. If you cannot pull off the road, make vehicles visible by switching on emergency flashers.  Do not risk danger to yourself by attempting to push your vehicle to a safe location.
  • Alert other motorists. Make sure your vehicle is visible to other motorists by turning on emergency flashers and raising the hood.
  • Communicate your situation. Once you and your passengers are in a safe location, call for assistance. AAA members in need of roadside assistance can reach AAA by calling 1-800-AAA-HELP or visiting  iPhone users can download the AAA Roadside app for free and request roadside service with a touch of a button.
  • Remain with your vehicle. Under most circumstances, if you have a cell phone, it's best to remain with your vehicle until assistance arrives. However, if you think your vehicle might be struck from behind, do not remain in it. Never stand behind or directly in front of it because other drivers may not see you.

Motorists are reminded that it's the law to slow down and move over for emergency personnel, including roadside assistance providers.  Drivers are encouraged to extend that courtesy to all motorists and vehicles on the side of the road.  Reduce speed and, if possible, move over one lane of traffic to provide a safe area for stranded motorists and emergency personnel assisting them.