MADISON – As much of the state prepares for a Groundhog Day snow storm, AAA Wisconsin advises motorists to only travel if necessary. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Drivers who must be on the road should take the following precautions:
Prepare an emergency kit for their vehicle. Be sure to include the following your cell phone charger, jumper cables, warm gear for all potential passengers (boots, hats, gloves), blankets, flares, flashlight and extra batteries, extra food and water for all potential passengers, general first aid kit, non-clumping kitty litter, ice scraper, snow brush and shovel, and extra windshield washer fluid.
Remove snow from the entire vehicle. Snow from your roof, hood and trunk can blow onto your windshield or the windshields of other drivers. Be sure your mirrors and lights are clean.
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.
Watch for icy surfaces on bridges and intersections, even when the rest of the road seems to be in good condition.
When changing lanes, avoid cutting in front of trucks, which need more time and distance than passenger vehicles to stop.
Don't use cruise control in precipitation and freezing temperatures.
Remember that four-wheel drive helps you to get going quicker, but it won't help you stop any faster.
According to a AAA Consumer Pulse™ survey conducted last October, 82% of motorists in Wisconsin report being concerned about losing control of their vehicle in poor weather conditions. “Skids most often occur while braking or turning, so the best way to avoid them is to reduce your speed and increase your following distance,” said Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs for AAA Wisconsin. “You should also avoid using cruise control in wet conditions, and remember that having four or all-wheel drive does not assist in braking.”
If you do find yourself losing traction, AAA advises you to follow these steps:
· Continue to look and steer in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go.
· Avoid slamming on the brakes. Although this is a natural response, it will only further upset the vehicle’s balance and make it harder to regain control. Instead, ease your foot off of the accelerator and gently brake if necessary.
· Once the wheels have regained traction, slowly resume acceleration and gently steer to avoid a counter-skid.
During severe winter weather AAA receives a high number of road service calls. During such times, priority service is given to members who are stranded or in a dangerous situation. AAA recommends motorists that if they become stranded, it is best to stay with the vehicle. If you can start your engine, run it only long enough to keep warm. Make sure the exhaust pipe is snow-free.