PHILADELPHIA, PA (Friday, February 12, 2021) – AAA Mid-Atlantic is urging Philadelphia-area motorists to be prepared for the potential for several rounds of winter weather this weekend and into next week. These systems could be packing a mixed bag of snow, sleet, freezing rain and ice which could make driving treacherous. AAA urges drivers to make sure their cars are ready for whatever winter weather comes their way, especially in light of the 133-car pileup in Fort Worth, Texas this week when freezing rain turned to ice on a major roadway. Six people were killed and traffic was stopped for hours.
“Drivers could see a mix of conditions on the roads that could be constantly changing, especially the threat of three ice events over the next several days,” said Jana Tidwell, public affairs manager, AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Drivers should stay off the roads until they can be treated and cleared. Those who do have to drive should be aware that conditions can change quickly when temperatures are around the freezing mark. Wet pavement can quickly become a sheet of ice. Drivers should be especially careful around bridges and overpasses as they freeze first and melt last.”
AAA urges drivers to make sure their cars are ready for whatever winter weather comes their way. AAA roadside assistance calls for dead batteries in particular have been higher than usual because more vehicles are sitting idle for days or weeks at a time because of COVID-19.
Winter Driving Do’s
- Prepare your vehicle for cold weather. Check battery, ignition system, lights, brakes, tires, the exhaust system and windshield wipers.
- Fill the tank. Fill your gas tank before any winter weather event begins. You never want to be low on gas if you get stuck on the road for hours.
- Slow down. When the roads are icy allow extra time to reach your destination. Rushing creates risks.
- Pack an emergency kit. Ice scraper, shovels, kitty litter, towels, blankets, coats, mittens, a cell phone, water and extra food in case road conditions strand you in your vehicle.
- Use major routes. After it snows major roads are cleared and treated first. Avoid secondary roads.
- Dress as if you were going to be stranded. It can get very cold in a car on the side of the road waiting for help. Be sure to have extra blankets and to insist that children who may be traveling with you do the same.
- Use low gear to get out of a tough spot. You need steady pulling and moderate power when traction is poor. The best remedy when wheels are stuck is to put the car in low gear and apply power slowly. Keep the wheels pointed straight ahead so the vehicle can move in a straight line. If you can’t go forward, try backing out, steering in the vehicle’s tracks.
Winter Driving Don’ts
- Avoid slamming on brakes. Minimize brake use on very slippery, icy roads and hills; if further speed reduction is needed use a gentle and slow brake application.
- Avoid changing lanes. On a four-lane highway, stay in the lane that has been cleared most recently. Changing lanes over built-up snow between lanes may cause you to loose control of the vehicle.
- Never use cruise control. When driving on any slippery wet, icy surface cruise control prevents you from having total control over your vehicle.
- Prevent from braking with an ABS. An anti-lock brake system allows the wheels to lock momentarily. Do not pump the pedal or remove your foot from the brake when you feel the brake pedal vibrate and pulse against your foot.
- Do not drive in four-wheel-drive. It will get you going faster and easier but it does not provide an advantage in stopping.
- Do not panic. If your vehicle skids out of control steer in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go. To regain control of your vehicle, stay calm.
AAA urges motorists to pack a vehicle emergency kit and leave it in their cars at all times.
“No one ever plans to get stuck,” said Tidwell. “Motorists on that Fort Worth highway had no idea they would be stuck for hours due to the 133-car pileup this week. It’s always good to have everything you need in case of an emergency, than need something and not have it.”
Vehicle Emergency Kit – Pack a Bag
- COVID-19: Masks, gloves, soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes to disinfect surfaces
- bag of sand, cat litter, rock salt or traction mats
- wiper fluid, windshield de-icer
- flashlight with extra batteries
- first-aid kit
- windshield scraper and brush
- emergency flares or reflectors
- battery booster cables
- small shovel
- blankets, extra gloves, hats, scarves and socks
- hand/foot warmers
- drinking water and non-perishable snacks (protein bars, granola bars, pretzels, crackers)
- car charger and/or external battery for your phone
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.