With a winter weather advisory in effect across Central Maryland and most schools in the region closing early, AAA Mid-Atlantic is reminding motorists to be especially careful on their evening commute.
“This afternoon’s predicted wintry mix of precipitation will make for slippery conditions on roadways in our region and could create a headache for commuters heading home,” said Ragina Cooper Averella, Public and Government Affairs Manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
The National Weather Service is forecasting a glaze of ice and some light, wet snow. A winter weather advisory is in effect from midday into the evening hours. “Roads that are slick or ice-covered can create a worst case scenario for drivers. Even though we are not expecting a heavy snowfall, the timing of the precipitation, in the height of rush hour, is cause for concern,” Averella added.
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 research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. AAA is encouraging drivers to be prepared and offers the below tips.
AAA safe driving tips for slick or icy roadways:
- Slow down: accelerate, turn and brake gradually. 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.
- Do not tailgate: normal following distances of three to four seconds on dry pavement should be extended to a minimum of eight to ten seconds when driving on slippery surfaces. The extra time will provide additional braking room should a sudden stop become necessary.
- Watch the traffic ahead: slow down immediately at the sight of brake lights, fishtailing cars, sideways skids or emergency flashers ahead.
- Never use cruise control on slippery roads: patches of ice can cause unexpected wheel spin and use of cruise control can slow driver response.
- Avoid unnecessarily changing lanes: this increases the chances of hitting a patch of ice between lanes that could cause loss of vehicle control.
- Use extreme caution on bridges and overpasses: black ice typically forms first in shaded areas of the roadway and on bridges and overpasses that freeze first and melt last. Although the road leading up to a bridge may be fine, the bridge itself could be a sheet of ice.
- Move Over: move over one lane for law enforcement and emergency roadside personnel assisting motorists. It is the law. If you are unable to move over, slow down.
- Carry a winter weather kit in your car: contents should include a fully charged cellphone (and car charger), ice scraper, blanket, warm winter clothing, flashlight with extra batteries, jumper cables, a bag of kitty litter, reflective triangles/flares, shovel and cloth/paper towels.
AAA Tips for Braking on Ice:
- 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. Maintaining control of your vehicle is much more difficult when braking on ice-covered roadways.
- Control the skid: in the event of a skid, ease off the accelerator and steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go.
- If your car has an anti-lock braking system (ABS): do not remove your foot from the brake during a skid. When you apply the brakes hard enough to make the wheels lock momentarily, you will typically feel the brake pedal vibrate and pulsate back against your foot. This is normal and the system is working as designed. Do not release pressure on the pedal or attempt to “pump” the brakes.
- If your car does not have an anti-lock braking system: keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to modulate the pressure applied to the brake pedal so the brakes are at the “threshold” of lockup but still rotating.
AAA tips when icing conditions affect 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.
For more tips or to learn about other solutions AAA provides motorists and their vehicles, please visit AAA.com/Automotive.
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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.