TOWSON, MD (Friday, January 17, 2020) – Mother Nature returns with a vengeance just ahead of a long holiday weekend. With an extended forecast for temperatures below freezing, as well as snow, rain and ice on Saturday, AAA is urging motorists to prepare their vehicles for the potential impact the extreme cold can have on car batteries and tires. In addition, the auto club reminds motorists to exercise caution when traveling during winter weather, as visibility and traction can be compromised.
“The first extended cold snap of the year, coupled with a forecast for wintry weather, comes just ahead of a long holiday weekend,” says Ragina C. Ali, Public and Government Affairs Manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “These conditions could impact the performance of your vehicle. Drivers should be proactive and check to ensure their vehicle battery, engines and tires are ready for travel.”
AAA offers the following vehicle preparation tips:
- Check Battery: Signs that your battery may need to be replaced include the vehicle cranking slowly when attempting to start or a grinding or buzzing sound when the ignition turns. Also, if the battery is more than three years old, that is a good indication that it needs to be replaced.
- Check Tire Pressure: Check tire inflation pressure more frequently in fall and winter. As the temperature drops, so will tire pressures – typically by one PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The proper tire pressure levels can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker typically located on the driver’s side door jamb. Also, check the spare.
- Check Fluid Levels: Make sure the vehicle engine oil, radiator coolant and windshield washer fluid are filled to the appropriate levels. Use a winter cleaning solution for the windshield washer reservoir that contains antifreeze components to prevent freezing.
- Lights: Check the operation of all headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers, and back-up lights. Replace any burnt out bulbs so you can see and be seen in dark or winter weather conditions.
- Protect Vehicle: If possible park car inside garage or under a cover like a carport.
- Dry and Lubricate Surfaces: Wipe down and dry weather strips and surfaces around doors and windows. Apply a lubricant (WD40, cooking spray and even Vaseline work well) to the weather stripping to prevent freezing.
- Windshield Wipers: Pull wipers away from your windshield to prevent them from freezing to the windshield.
- Prepare an Emergency Roadside Kit: Keep a kit stocked with a fully charged cellphone and charger, snow/ice scraper, blanket, extra gloves, hats, flares or brightly colored hazard triangle, shovel, de-icer, kitty litter or sand and non-perishable snacks.
- Check your AAA membership status. Before you need service is the best time to check that you have service. Make sure your membership is up to date and the selected service level matches your lifestyle needs. AAA has varying levels of membership to fit every budget and lifestyle.
New AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety data analysis finds that almost half a million crashes and over 2,000 deaths occur during severe weather and hazardous road conditions annually. The analysis found that over 38 percent of crashes involving bad weather and/or hazardous road conditions happen during the winter.
“Snow, rain and sleet can reduce your visibility, making it difficult to safely maneuver or even bring the car to a stop if necessary,” said Ali. “Everyone needs to be diligent when driving in these conditions, especially if the road is wet or covered in ice or snow.”
The AAA Foundation analyzed 2017 regional data of crashes occurring in adverse weather including what the roadway surface conditions were at the time of the crash. Researchers found that adverse weather and roadway surface conditions were involved in 29% of all crashes and 25% of all deaths that occurred during the winter— much higher than during any other season. Regionally, 40.8% of crashes and 32.3% of deaths during the winter occur in adverse weather or on hazardous roadway surface conditions in the Northeast.
This winter, AAA Mid-Atlantic expects to rescue 130,000 motorists in Maryland. AAA recommends the following tips when faced with snowy or icy conditions:
- Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in bad weather, it’s better to avoid taking unnecessary risks by venturing out.
- Drive slowly. Always adjust your speed to account for less traction when driving on snow or ice.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Apply the gas slowly to retain traction and avoid skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry and take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: it takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
- Increase your following distance. Allow five to six seconds of following distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. This extra space will allow you time to stop safely if the other driver suddenly brakes.
- Pay close attention on hills. When approaching a hill observe how other drivers are responding and keep far enough behind the vehicle ahead of you so that you will not have to slow down or stop. Once you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed as slowly as possible.
- Avoid slamming on the brakes. A skid can occur when you apply the brakes so hard that one or more wheels lock. Should a skid occur try to remain calm and steer in the direction you want the vehicle to go.
- Put down the phone. Eliminate all distractions while driving including phones and other electronic devices.
- Move over. Remember the “Slow Down, Move Over” law when first responders, waste collection workers and emergency roadside assistance workers are assisting motorists and/or disabled vehicles.
Motorists are encouraged to stop by any AAA Car Care Center for a FREE check of your battery, tires, fluids and wipers, in advance of the pending weather.
About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.
AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to over 60 million members nationwide and nearly 988,000 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.
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