Sr. Public Aff. Specialist, CT/DE/NJ/PA
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PHILADELPHIA, PA (January 29, 2021) – Old Man Winter returns this weekend with the coldest temperatures of the year so far and a nor’easter poised to bring accumulating snow to the region beginning Sunday afternoon and continuing into Monday. Extreme cold temperatures, especially for an extended period of time, put added strain on a car and its battery. And snow will undoubtedly cause road conditions to deteriorate quickly. AAA urges motorists to use this weekend to prepare by checking car batteries, filling up the gas tank and packing a vehicle emergency kit. Preparation is key.
“AAA urges motorists to use the calm before the storm today and this weekend to prepare their vehicles by checking the battery, filling up the gas tank, and packing a vehicle emergency kit,” said Jana L. Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Extreme cold temperatures for an extended period of time has a cumulative effect on car batteries, so it is critical to have you car battery checked. Also, no one ever plans to get stuck, so have an emergency kit ready. Preparation can make all the difference.”
Check the Battery
According to AAA’s Automotive Research Center, at 0°F, a car’s battery loses about 60 percent of its strength and at 32°F it loses 35 percent. During cold temperatures starting an engine can take up to twice as much current as needed under normal conditions While three to five years is a typical life span, various internal and environmental conditions impact a battery’s long term health. Periodic inspection, testing, and cleaning are suggested and monitoring the use of accessories and electronic devices when your car is not running can help maximize its longevity.
“In frigid weather like this, weak car batteries are the first to go, especially since cold weather damage is cumulative,” said Tidwell. “At 32°F, your car’s battery loses 35 percent of its strength. If your battery is more than three years old, it’s worth having your battery checked. If you’ve postponed vehicle maintenance, now is the time to take care of it.”
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
- Make sure your windshield wipers and lights (headlights, taillights, turn signals) are working properly – make sure you can see and can be seen
- Keep a FULL tank of gas
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 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:
- 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.
- 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.
Making sure your membership is active or joining AAA is important and as simple as going to www.AAA.com.
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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 60 million members nationwide and more than 3.2 million members in Pennsylvania. 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 appss for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.