Are you winter-ready? Here’s how you can stay safe on the road

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Winter weather is arriving in the tri-state, and roadways can become hazardous.

AAA is sharing some safety tips to help drivers prepare for winter weather that could help save their lives. The company’s first tip is to inspect your vehicle before driving on the roads. Here’s how:

  • Battery: Clean any corrosion from battery posts and cable connections and wash all surfaces with battery terminal cleaner or a solution of baking soda and water.
  • Tires: Examine tires for tread depth, uneven wearing and cupping. Check tire pressures once a month when tires are cold before driving for any distance.
  • Engine: Have any engine drivability problems corrected at a good repair shop. Symptoms like hard starts, rough idling, stalling, or diminished power could signal a problem exacerbated by cold weather. Engine hoses and belts should be inspected for wear or cracking.
  • Fluids: Important system fluids such as engine coolant and antifreeze, transmission and brake fluid should be checked and changed at recommended intervals.
  • Exhaust: Have your mechanic check the exhaust system for leaks and look for any holes in the trunk and floorboards.
  • Brakes: Inspect brakes as recommended in your owner’s manual, or sooner if you notice pulsations, pulling, noises while braking or longer stopping distance. Correct minor brake problems promptly.
  • Wipers: Replace worn windshield-wiper blades. Purchase one-piece beam-type or rubber-clad “winter” blades to fight snow and ice build-up. Use cold-weather windshield washer solvent and carry an ice-scraper.
  • Lights: Inspect all lights and bulbs and replace burned-out bulbs—clean road grime or clouding from all lenses.

AAA also recommends drivers should prepare a winter emergency kit and stow it in their vehicle’s trunk to have it available. According to AAA, more than 40% of drivers do not carry an emergency kit in their vehicle.

When packing an emergency kit, drivers should make sure they include items like:

Emergency Kit for Vehicles (Courtesy: AAA)
  • Fully charged mobile phone pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers including family and emergency services, and car charger
  • Bottled water
  • First-aid kit
  • Non-perishable snacks for both human and pet passengers
  • Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats
  • Snow shovel
  • Blankets
  • Extra warm clothing (coat, gloves, hats, scarves)
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Window washer solvent
  • Ice scraper with brush
  • Cloth or roll of paper towels
  • Jumper cables
  • Warning devices (flares or triangles)
  • Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)
  • Because of COVID, be sure to add an extra face mask and hand sanitizer

If you need to travel in the cold or wintery weather, AAA says these tips can help you stay safe on the road.

  • Before driving, make sure you have a vehicle emergency kit.
  • Remove ice and snow from the hood, roof, trunk, lights, windows and mirrors.
  • Buckle your seatbelts
  • Put down the phone
  • Turn off cruise control for icy roads.
  • Accelerate gently; if tires lose grip on the road and start to spin, let off the accelerator.
  • Slow down and give yourself more room between yourself and the car ahead of you by at least 10 seconds
  • Remember to move over when first responders, waste collection workers and emergency roadside assistance workers are assisting motorists along multi-lane roadways.
  • Avoid changing lanes if possible, especially if snow and ice are between the lanes.
  • Pay attention to hills; watch how other drivers are responding when approaching a hell and keep far behind the vehicle ahead so that drivers will not have to slow down or stop. Once drivers reach the crest of the hill, reduce speed and proceed as slowly as possible.
  • Avoid slamming on the brakes to avoid skidding. A skid can occur when you apply the brakes so hard that the wheels lock. If a skid occurs, remain calm and steer in the direction you want the vehicle to go.

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