It’s the winter that hasn’t ended even though the calendar officially said spring on Tuesday, March 20.
With a winter that extended into the first two days of spring and consisted of four nor’easters, including days with artic temperatures, AAA Mid-Atlantic has come to the rescue of 150,000 Marylanders. This is an increase of 12 percent compared to last winter through the first two days of spring (December 21, 2016 through March 21, 2017).
“This has been a particularly taxing winter, and first two days of spring, on motorists’ vehicles here in Maryland, given the extended stretch of cold weather, an unusually early pothole season, and one nor’easter after another,” says Ragina Cooper Averella, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “And motorists are still not in the clear, as many are dealing with dead batteries due to cars sitting idle for one to two days.”
Today, as residents continue to dig their vehicles out from yesterday’s storm, AAA Mid-Atlantic has responded to over 1,450 calls for roadside assistance in Maryland as of 3:00 pm, exceeding Wednesday’s 1,100-call volume for the entire day by 32 percent.
Most of yesterday’s requests for AAA roadside assistance were from Maryland members who needed a tow after losing control of their vehicle and getting stuck in the snow. The need for extrication services continued today, as the primary reason for calling AAA. However, the second most requested reason for service, 31 percent, were for dead batteries.
Even though the snowstorm is over and temperatures have warmed, AAA Mid-Atlantic is advising motorists to be alert for black ice this evening into tomorrow morning, which will make for slippery conditions on roadways. Black ice forms when temperatures drop dramatically and the moisture on the roadways freezes into a smooth, nearly invisible slippery surface. It is particularly prevalent on shaded areas of roadways, and overpasses, bridges, and tunnels.
“Black ice can look like wet pavement to a driver and therein lies the danger,” advised Averella. “Motorists need to be especially observant when driving after sunset and before sunrise, and slow down when encountering what appears to be wet spots on the roads. Also use caution when driving on bridges, overpasses, and through tunnels.”
AAA offers the following tips for motorists who encounter black ice while driving:
Be aware of and on the lookout for black ice. Pavement with black ice will be slightly darker and duller than the rest of the road surface; it commonly forms on highly shaded areas, infrequently traveled roads, bridges and overpasses.
Use extreme caution on bridges and overpasses, which typically freeze first and melt last. Even if the roadway leading up to a bridge appears to be fine, use caution as the bridge itself could be covered in a sheet of ice.
Never use cruise control.
Avoid unnecessarily changing lanes, which increases your chances of hitting a patch of ice between lanes that could cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
Drive, turn and brake slowly, adjusting speed to road conditions and increase following distance; watch for brake lights, fishtailing or sideways cars and emergency flashers.
Avoid braking on ice. If you approach a patch of ice, try to brake in advance and control the skid by easing off the accelerator and steering in the direction you want the front of the car to go.
If you have antilock brakes, do not pump the pedal; the vibrations and pulsating against your foot when you press down means the system is working.
Use your low-beam headlights.
Remember, four-wheel drive doesn’t help you stop any faster.
AAA Mid-Atlantic is also advising motorists, if they have not already done so, to clear their entire vehicle of snow, including the hood of the car. This a safety measure to prevent snow from blowing off and on to the windshields of vehicles following from behind. However, this step also prevents snow from falling onto dry roads and contributing to black ice, as the snow will melt and refreeze after dark.
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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than 937,000 members in Maryland. 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 app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit AAA.com.