Monday, December 19, 2011

Winter Safety Tips from AAA

I received this in my inbox this morning from West Valley City. It has some great tips to remember this time of year:

Snow, rain and fog present real challenges to motorists and contribute to a high number of property damage crashes. AAA Utah encourages drivers to hone their winter driving skills and prepare their vehicles to safely navigate the wet and slippery streets.

"Loss of visibility, slick roads, poorly maintained vehicles and driver error combine with the elements to cause thousands of crashes each year," said AAA Utah spokeswoman Rolayne Fairclough. "Many could be avoided by simply adjusting your driving to the weather and doing a quick vehicle check."

AAA suggests motorists can improve their safety if they observe these winter driving tips: 
  • Slow down and look ahead: Vehicles need at least three times more distance to stop on slick roads. Always be extremely attentive to your driving and the road conditions so you can anticipate a hazard in time to react safely. 
  • Increase your following distance: A vehicle needs a minimum of four to eight seconds between it and the vehicle in front. 
  • Steer clear of collisions: Learn to take evasive action by steering around to avoid collisions. Steering is preferred to braking at speeds above 25 mph because less distance is required to steer around an object than to brake to a stop. In winter weather, sudden braking often leads to skids. 
  • Recognize hydroplaning hazards: Even small amounts of water on the road can cause a vehicle to hydroplane. One-twelfth of an inch of water between tires and the road means each tire has to displace one gallon of water a second. To reduce the chances of hydroplaning, slow down, avoid hard braking or turning sharply, drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you and increase your following distance. 
  • Know how to handle fog: Visibility in fog can deteriorate at a moment's notice. The rapid loss of visibility creates serious driving hazards. The following are specific driving tips for fog: 
    • Drive with lights on low beam. 
    • Reduce speed. 
    • Listen for traffic you cannot see. Open windows if necessary. 
    • Use wipers and defroster for maximum vision. 
    • Be patient! Don't switch lanes unnecessarily. 
    • Unless absolutely necessary, don't stop on freeways or other heavily traveled roads. 
    • If possible, postpone your trip until after the fog has lifted. 
AAA Utah encourages motorists to prepare their vehicles for winter driving by checking the following:
  • Tires: Good tread allows the water to escape from under the tires and increases traction. Keep tires at proper pressure. Low pressure allows the tread to squeeze together and thus reduces traction and damage the tire. Equip your vehicle with snow tires which have 30 percent deeper tread than standard tires. Choose narrow tires over wide for best traction. Wide tires "float" on top of snow while narrow ones cut through it for better traction. 
  • Battery and electrical system: Make sure the battery is in good condition. Cold weather places high demands on electrical systems. 
  • Brakes: Have brakes inspected and check that they apply evenly to help prevent wheels from locking when the roads get slippery. 
  • Coolant: Make sure the coolant provides adequate anti-freeze protection. A 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water provides protection to -30 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Wipers: Replace wipers that streak the windshield. Fill the windshield washer reservoir with an antifreeze washer solvent. 
  • Gas: Keep the gas tank at least half full at all times to minimize condensation that can lead to gas line freeze. 
Carry an emergency kit: Because walking away from a snowbound vehicle can be deadly, an emergency kit is a must. It should include blankets or sleeping bags, rain gear, extra sets of mittens, socks and wool hats, newspaper for insulation, plastic bags, food, water, a small shovel, knife, tools, sand or kitty litter for traction, a first aid kit, a flashlight with extra batteries and a brightly colored cloth for the antenna. (Read through our suggestions of what to keep in an emergency kit for winter.)


  1. Just found your blog while browsing for information on winter safety. Really helpful post and thanks for bringing up the article.