LEXINGTON, Ky. – With the arrival of cold temperatures and the threat of snow in the forecast, AAA Blue Grass is gearing up for another winter season.
“The dramatic drop in temperatures and potential for accumulating snow in the forecast means it will be all hands on deck as AAA responds to stranded motorists as quickly and safely as possible,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, AAA Blue Grass manager of public and government affairs. “No one ever plans on getting stranded, but tires and batteries are some of the most common problems seen over the winter months. AAA reminds motorists to be sure their vehicle is in good condition before heading out onto the roadways.”
Winter Driving Preparedness
Each year, AAA rides to the rescue of approximately 32 million stranded motorists across the country. Follow these tips to ensure your vehicle is road ready for winter driving:
- Make certain your tires are properly inflated and have adequate tread.
- Have the battery checked by a professional to ensure it is strong enough to face cold weather. AAA members can request a visit from a AAA Mobile Battery Service technician who will test their battery and replace it on-site, if necessary.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
- To optimize visual clarity, clean the outside and inside of your windshield at least once a week.
- Keep your car’s windshield and rear-window defrosters in good working condition.
- Keep your windshield wiper blades fresh. Consider changing them every 6 months.
- Before heading out, prepare a winter emergency kit and stow it in the trunk of your vehicle to have it immediately available. Emergency kit items should include a deicer, shovel, ice scraper, warning flare or reflector triangle, flashlight with fresh batteries, first aid kit, jumper cables, and sand or kitty litter for traction.
- Pack a blanket, extra gloves and heavy, light-colored jacket, scarf and hat so you can be seen if you have to get out of your vehicle. Pack enough snacks and beverages for you, your passengers and pets traveling with you as well as a cell phone with car charger.
- AAA members should travel with their membership card or have their membership number handy when calling for roadside assistance. Making sure your AAA membership is active to take advantage of roadside assistance is important and as simple as going to AAA.com or stopping in at one of the AAA retail locations.
Tips for Driving in the Snow
The driver who knows what to do in an emergency can reduce emotional impact and increase chances of correct responses when driving in bad weather. Once your vehicle is road ready, keep these tips in mind when venturing out on wintry roads:
- Avoid driving while you’re fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks.
- Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage, nor leave a running vehicle unattended.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids.
- Drive slowly. Every maneuver takes longer on snow-covered roads and driving slowly can help you maintain control.
- Be aware of possible ice. Be especially careful on bridges and overpasses, which freeze sooner than roads. Even at temperatures above freezing, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges if conditions are wet.
- Be careful on infrequently traveled roads, which may not be cleared as often as other roadways.
- Avoid braking on icy roads. Try to brake well ahead of stop signs and traffic lights, preferably in areas of clear pavement. The best way to stop is threshold braking. 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 stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, without getting close to vehicles ahead of you, do it.
- 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 rather than hard acceleration. Do not stop on your way up the hill. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill as slowly as possible.
- Never use cruise control on slippery roads. Cruise control will cause you to 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.
- Respond to skids. Regardless of the cause of the skid, look and steer toward your intended path of travel. Straighten the wheels as soon as you feel the rear of the vehicle begin to realign with your intended path of travel.
“The first goal is to try to avoid a breakdown by keeping your vehicle up-to-date on maintenance. The second goal, should you break down, is to stay as safe and warm as possible while waiting for help to arrive,” AAA Blue Grass' Weaver Hawkins said.
Many of the winter emergency items listed above – plus pre-assembled multi-item kits including the 73-piece Explorer Road Kit and 66-piece Winter Safety Road Kit – are available, at a discount to AAA members, in the online store at AAA.com or at a AAA retail location.
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to 60 million members nationwide and more than 685,000 members in Kentucky. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a non-stock, non-profit corporation working 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 (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.
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