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Winter Driving Skills Save Lives, Says AAA


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DEARBORN, Mich Dec. 1, 2010; Because more crashes involving property damage occur during the winter months than at any other time, AAA Michigan encourages motorists to prepare for adverse cold weather driving conditions by driving defensively while on the road.

To help maintain your safety as well as that of passengers, fellow motorists and roadside workers, AAA recommends the following tips for winter driving:

  • Before starting out in snowy weather, take time to remove the snow from the entire car so it doesn't blow onto your windshield or the windshields of other drivers. Make sure your mirrors and lights are clean as well.
  • Drive with your low-beam headlights illuminated.
  • When the roads are icy, slow down and allow extra time to reach your destination. Even better, delay your trip, stop early for the day, or take an extended break from driving. Using an online service such as the TripTik Travel Planner at AAA.com can help you find restaurants and lodgings.
  • Allow sufficient room for maintenance vehicles and plows, stay at least 15 car lengths (200 feet) back and, if you need to pass, go to the other vehicle's left.
  • Watch for icy surfaces on bridges and intersections, even when the rest of the road seems to be in good condition.
  • If you get stuck in snow, straighten the wheel and accelerate slowly. Add sand or salt under the drive wheels to help avoid spinning the tires.
  • If your tires lose traction, continue to look and steer in the direction you want to go. If the drive wheels start to spin or slide while going up a hill, ease off the accelerator slightly and then gently resume speed.
  • Look farther ahead in traffic. Actions by other drivers will alert you to problems and give you extra seconds to react.
  • 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.
  • Apply constant, firm pressure to the pedal with anti-lock brakes.
  • Keep emergency supplies in the vehicle, including cell phone, boots, gloves, hat, blanket, ice scraper, snow brush, flashlight, matches and candle and reflective triangle or flares.