TOPEKA, Kan. – Feb. 20, 2018 – With ice and sleet falling on parts of Kansas this morning, and more winter weather forecast throughout the week, AAA Kansas is urging motorists to be prepared for the conditions and to remain cautious if driving.
AAA Kansas is experiencing an increase in emergency roadside service calls as the ice and sleet sweeps through and weather conditions deteriorate, with slide-offs and crashes due to slick roads, battery/non-start problems and flat tires the main culprits.
Hazardous storms and inclement weather are a factor in more than half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. AAA Kansas is encouraging drivers to have safety in mind if they venture out on the wintry roadways.
“Ice, sleet and snow can cause significant safety problems by reducing visibility and making it difficult to maneuver or stop,” said Shawn Steward, AAA Kansas spokesman. “It’s important for drivers to be cautious and take it slow if they must get out on the roads.”
About 46 percent of crashes involving bad weather take place in the winter, making this the worst time of year for driving in treacherous conditions, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The highest proportion of crashes involving bad weather happen overnight from 6:00 PM until 5:59 AM, when visibility is limited and roads are most likely to freeze.
Ice can be a factor, even before motorists take to the streets, so AAA Kansas offers these tips to manage iced-up vehicles:
- Ice coated windshield/windows: NEVER pour hot water on windshield or windows – this can cause the glass to break. Use vehicle defrosters to melt ice for easier removal. Don’t use windshield wipers to remove ice – this will damage the blades.
- Frozen windows: Do not continue to push the power window buttons if the window is frozen, it can damage the mechanics inside the door and can also cause the window to break.
- Frozen locks: Never use water to thaw frozen locks, instead use commercial deicing products or heat the key and lock with a hair dryer. A lighter can also be used to heat the key.
- Frozen windshield wipers: If windshield wipers are frozen to the windshield, use the heater and defroster to melt the ice before turning the windshield wipers on. When you arrive at your destination, remember to pull the windshield wipers away from the windshield to prevent refreezing.
AAA Kansas recommends the following tips to remain safe while dealing with and driving in snowy and icy conditions:
- Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in winter conditions, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate.
- Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on ice- and snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Apply the gas slowly to regain 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 to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
- Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
- Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
- Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill slowly.
- Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
DOWNLOADABLE WINTER DRIVING B-ROLL
Far too many drivers become stranded on the roadside this time of year. Nationwide, AAA handles an average of 600,000 emergency roadside assistance calls per week in the winter with the most common problems being dead batteries, extractions, towing and flat tires.
“Motorists should heed travel warnings and stay home unless they absolutely must venture out,” AAA Kansas’ Steward said. “AAA Kansas is reminding anyone who must drive on icy or snow-covered roads to be prepared for the conditions and to go nowhere – not even a short distance - without a full tank of gas, a fully charged cell phone (loaded with the AAA Mobile App) and a fully stocked emergency kit.”
AAA Kansas recommends motorists include the following items in an emergency kit to keep in their car during winter weather:
- Bag of abrasive materials such as sand, salt or cat litter for gaining traction in snow and ice
- Snow shovel
- Gloves or mittens
- Ice scraper and snow brush
- Jumper cables
- Blanket and extra warm clothing
- Warning flare or triangles
- Cellular phone and emergency charger
- Food and water
- First aid kit