Driving in Winter – Tips

AAA recommends the following winter driving tips:

Watch weather reports prior to a long-distance drive or before driving in isolated areas. Delay trips when especially bad weather is expected. If you must leave, let others know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival.

Always make sure your vehicle is in peak operating condition by having it inspected by an AAA Approved Auto Repair facility.

Keep at least half a tank of gasoline in your vehicle at all times.

Pack a cellular telephone with your local AAA’s telephone number, plus blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any needed medication in your vehicle.

If you become snow-bound, stay with your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don’t try to walk in a severe storm. It’s easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.

Don’t over exert yourself if you try to push or dig your vehicle out of the snow.

Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress.

At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.

Make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running.

Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps.

If possible run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill and to conserve gasoline.

Tips for driving in the snow:

Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding 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.

Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.

The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.

Know your brakes. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS) and need to slow down quickly, press hard on the pedal-it’s normal for the pedal to vibrate a bit when the ABS is activated. In cars without ABS, use “threshold” breaking, keeping your heel on the floorboard and using th 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 down hill as slowly as possible.

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.

Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors

Other tips

After a car accident, most people focus their attention on making sure all involved parties are okay, calling for medical assistance when required, documenting the accident and exchanging information for insurance purposes. These are the right things to do. The problem is, there are numerous other hazards drivers and their passengers may face after being involved in a car crash – especially during the winter.

Slipping and Falling

Roads that are wet, snowy or icy are not only difficult to navigate by car, but they are also very slippery for people on foot. After an accident, victims face the risk of slipping and falling on the cold, hard ground.

One wrong move or loss of footing, and an individual could find himself or herself suffering from injuries in addition to those sustained during the accident. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vehicle-related accidents and falls are two of the most common types of accident resulting in serious injury or death.

Hypothermia or Frostbite

When an individual’s skin is exposed to freezing temperatures for a significant period of time, or the core temperature drops below 95 degrees, and that individual faces the risk of frostbite and hypothermia. The National Institute on Aging lists some of the early signs of hypothermia as cold feet and hands, swollen face, pale skin, acting sleepy, exhibiting confusion or unwarranted anger, and slurred speech.

Getting Hit by Another Vehicle

After the initial crash, caution must be taken to prevent you and your passengers from suffering further injuries as a result of being hit by another vehicle in a second collision.

Do not get out of your vehicle until you know it is safe to do so. In some situations, it may be safest to remain in the car until help arrives, while other times it may be safer to get out of the car.

If you get out of the vehicle, stand away from traffic when exchanging information or surveying damage. Always keep an eye on oncoming traffic so you can avoid being hit if you notice another driver beginning to lose control. Be aware of snow plows and other winter vehicles as well.

Depending on the location in which the crash took place, you may want to consider moving your vehicles to a safer location if you are able to do so. Do not attempt to move the vehicles if road conditions are too slick.

Becoming Buried under Snow

After being involved in a collision during the winter, you may have to wait for emergency personnel or a tow truck to arrive. Waiting in your vehicle is often a good idea, but be sure to put on your hazard lights so oncoming vehicles can see you. You do not want to end up being buried in your vehicle under a few feet of newly fallen snow, or as a result of a passing snow plow.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

If you are going to remain in your vehicle until help arrives, be sure to crack at least one window. Keeping the engine running so as to stay warm may seem like a good idea, but what you may not realize is that you could be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if your vehicle’s air-intake system were to get clogged by snow.

Being Prepared Can Help You Avoid Further Injury Following a Car Accident

Being properly prepared is the most effective way to avoid further injury or death following a car accident. Always dress appropriately for winter travel and be sure to put extra clothes, jackets and blankets in your car in case you break down or get into a car accident. Having at least one extra change of clothes could be key if the clothes you are wearing become wet or cold. Sitting in wet clothing, particularly wet socks, will often only make matters worse.

Pack reserve supplies of food and water. Bring a cell phone charger with you in case your phone needs to be charged. Bring an emergency first aid kid, as well as flares, light sticks and a whistle to direct rescuers to your location.-

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