Tips for driving on snow and ice

Published 11:51 am Tuesday, January 16, 2018

With the approaching inclement weather, AAA Alabama wants to remind motorists of a few winter driving tips.  The most important rule is:  if at all possible, stay at off the roads completely.  However, if you have to travel, remember these tips:

GETTING UNDERWAY 
To see and be seen by others requires the driver to clean all snow and ice from the vehicle — hood, roof, trunk, lights and windows. Snow or ice left on any of these areas increases the possibility that visibility will be affected when the vehicle is in motion. Try to avoid driving when visibility is poor; if you must drive, keep your speed low, headlights on low beam and if needed pull off to a safe spot as soon as possible.

FOLLOWING 
Normal following distances for dry pavement (two to three seconds) should be increased to eight to ten seconds when driving on icy, slippery surfaces. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.

STEERING 
Snowy and icy surfaces make steering difficult and require smooth, careful, precise movements of the steering wheel. Skidding, where the front or rear move laterally, is caused by hard acceleration or braking, speeds too fast for conditions, and quick jerky movements of the steering wheel. Plus, 4×4 vehicles can lose traction as easily as 2-wheel drive vehicles.

BRAKING 
Stopping on slippery surfaces requires longer visibility, following and stopping distances. The heavier the vehicle the longer it will take to stop. The stopping distance required on ice at 0 degrees Fahrenheit is twice the amount required at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Shaded spots, bridges, overpasses and intersections are areas where ice is likely to form first or be the most slippery, because the shiny ice surface has either been polished by previous traffic, or a thin layer of water covers the melting ice below. When road conditions change, so do braking requirements.

SKIDS 
In a skid, it’s important to regain control of your vehicle, especially if it skids sideways. Don’t panic-decelerate by easing your foot off the gas if the wheels lose traction due to hard acceleration. Take your foot off the brake if the wheels skid due to hard or panic braking. As your wheels begin to grip the road, look in the direction you want your vehicle to go and gently steer in the direction you want the vehicle to go.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides 58 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.