Last week, New Jersey State Senator Tom Kean visited AAA on Route 22 in Springfield to remind motorists to make sure they are prepared for winter driving.
Speaking shortly before snow fell on Friday, Jan 25, Kean said that he felt it was important to get this information out to New Jersey drivers.
“It is so important for New Jersey motorists to take the time before it snows to make sure that their car is ready for bad weather and ensure they are familiar with the best strategies for driving in difficult weather conditions," Kean said in an email. Being prepared might save their life and the lives of others who share the road."
AAA recommends motorists brush up on winter driving techniques before snow or freezing rain starts to fall.
“Nearly one-quarter of weather related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement, motorists should be particularly cautious as winter weather starts to hit New Jersey,” said Betsy Adey, President of AAA New Jersey Automobile Club.
In a press release, AAA provided the following cold weather tips:
Prepare Your Vehicle for Use in Ice and Snow
Before winter conditions hit, it’s important to prepare your car for harsh winter weather. AAA’s Winter Car Care Checklist can help determine a vehicle’s winter maintenance needs. Many of the items on the list can be inspected by a car owner in less than an hour, but others should be performed by a certified technician. The AAA Winter Car Care Checklist can be found here.
AAA members can stop at the Car Care Center to get a free Winter Safety check. AAA technicans will measure and inspect tire pressure and tread wear, check wiper blades, coolant level and exterior lighting and will top off your washer fluid.
Drive Distraction Free
It is also important when driving in winter conditions to drive distraction-free and in the right frame of mind. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles your risk of being in a crash. AAA recommends if you are with a passenger, enlist the passenger’s help to carry out activities that would otherwise distract you from driving safely.
Do Not Use Cruise Control and Avoid Tailgating
Normal following distances of three to four seconds for dry pavement should be increased to eight to 10 seconds when driving on icy, slippery surfaces. This extra time will allow for extra braking distance should a sudden stop become necessary. If driving on a four-lane highway, stay in the clearest lane; avoid changing lanes and driving over built-up snow. Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery (wet, ice, snow, sand) surface; not using cruise control will allow you to respond instantly when you lift your foot off the accelerator.
Know When to Brake and When to Steer
Some driving situations require abrupt action to avoid a crash or collision and in winter conditions the decision to steer or brake can have very different outcomes. When travelling over 25 MPH, AAA recommends steering over braking to avoid a collision in wintery conditions, as less distance is required to steer around an object than to brake to a stop. In slick conditions, sudden braking can lead to loss of vehicle control.
However, sometimes steering is not an option. Braking on slippery surfaces requires you to look further head and increased following and stopping distances. Plan stopping distances as early as possible and always look 20-30 seconds ahead of your vehicle to ensure you have time and space to stop safely. Shaded spots, bridges, overpasses and intersections are areas where ice is likely to form first and will be the most slippery. It is important to adjust your braking habits as road conditions change.
Stay in Control Through a Skid
Even careful drivers can experience skids. When a vehicle begins to skid, it’s important to not panic and follow these basic steps:
- Continue to look and steer in the direction the car needs to go.
- Avoid slamming on the brakes as this will further upset the vehicle’s balance and make it harder to control.
If you find your vehicle stuck in the snow, AAA members needing assistance can request roadside rescue at (800) AAA-HELP. Android and iPhone users can download AAA Mobile, AAA’s mobile smartphone app that provides AAA services for all motorists, such as mapping and gas price comparison, as well as member-exclusive benefits including roadside assistance and discounts. AAA Membership is not required to download and use AAA apps, but is necessary to take advantage of unique member benefits such as roadside assistance. For more information on AAA Mobile, visit AAA.com/Mobile. These tips and additional information on driving in winter conditions can be found in the AAA brochure How to Go on Ice and Snow online.
The AAA Car Care Center in Springfield offers a free vehicle trip check—a multi-point inspection of the vehicle. Log on to AAA.com/CarCare or call 973.921.3559 to make an appointment. If you’re on the go and need assistance, AAA offers the Approved Automotive Repair Program to help motorists find quality auto repair facilities. These facilities meet and maintain high professional standards for training, equipment, cleanliness and customer service. Look for the AAA Approved Auto Repair sign at local auto repair shops, or search for a nearby facility at AAA.com/Repair.