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Thursday, January 3, 2013 - 2:19pm
El Paso, TX — The snow is expected to come down even harder on Friday causing icy and dangerous road conditions in the Borderland. AAA has some tips to keep drivers safely on the road.
AAA Texas anticipates coming to the aid of about 210,000 stranded motorists this winter
(December through February).
Before Driving Please Keep In Mind:
• Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage
• Never leave your vehicle unattended with the engine running
• Make certain your tires are property inflated
• Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze up
• If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather
Stay At Home If Possible, But If You Must Go
• Let others know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival
• Always look and steer where you want to go on wet roads
• When driving in snow be sure to accelerate and decelerate slowly to help maintain traction and avoid skids. Plan your maneuvers well in advance and do one thing at a time, brake, then turn, then accelerate and keep your speed way down. Remember it takes longer to slow down on icy roads. Nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Don’t stop if you can avoid it -- instead slow your speed and keep your car moving -- this can help prevent you from becoming stuck. When you do slow down, use the ball of your foot and do it slowly.
Drive Distraction Free
It is important when driving in winter conditions to drive distraction-free and in the right frame of mind. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles your risk of being in a crash. AAA recommends if you are with a passenger, enlist the passenger’s help to carry out activities that would otherwise distract you from driving safely.
Do Not Use Cruise Control and Avoid Tailgating
Normal following distances of three to four seconds for dry pavement should be increased to eight to 10 seconds when driving on icy, slippery surfaces. This extra time will allow for extra braking distance should a sudden stop become necessary. If driving on a four-lane highway, stay in the clearest lane; avoid changing lanes and driving over built-up snow. Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery (wet, ice, snow, sand) surface; not using cruise control will allow you to respond instantly when you lift your foot off the accelerator.
Know When to Brake and When to Steer
Some driving situations require abrupt action to avoid a crash or collision and in winter conditions the decision to steer or brake can have very different outcomes. When traveling over 25 MPH, AAA recommends steering over braking to avoid a collision in wintery conditions, as less distance is required to steer around an object than to brake to a stop. In slick conditions, sudden braking can lead to loss of vehicle control.
However, sometimes steering is not an option. Braking on slippery surfaces requires you to look further head and increased following and stopping distances. Plan stopping distances as early as possible and always look 20-30 seconds ahead of your vehicle to ensure you have time and space to stop safely. Shaded spots, bridges, overpasses and intersections are areas where ice is likely to form first and will be the most slippery. It is important to adjust your braking habits as road conditions change.
Stay in Control Through a Skid
Even careful drivers can experience skids. When a vehicle begins to skid, it’s important to not panic and follow these basic steps:
• Continue to look and steer in the direction the car needs to go.
• Avoid slamming on the brakes as this will further upset the vehicle’s balance and make it harder to control.
Carry A Winter Driving Kit In Your Vehicle
• Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt or cat litter)
• Small snow shovel
• Snow brush
• Traction mats
• Window-washing solvent
• Ice Scraper
• Cloth or paper towels
• Booster cables
• Warning flares or triangles
• Cell phone and charger
• Gloves or mittens