AAA: You’re more likely to crash in winter; take precautions

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says more than half a million crashes happen every winter, and more than 2,000 people die on the road every winter.

Therefore, this weekend’s expected snowstorm will be time to take extra care — or to stay home and avoid the roads altogether, said AAA Northeast’s Lloyd Albert on Friday morning.

The auto club is encouraging drivers to be vigilant behind the wheel in the winter and to stay prepared by carrying an emergency roadside kit.

STORM READY: Vital Weather Resources »

A research report by AAA’s Foundation for Public Safety looked at bad weather and crashes over a five-year period, and found the highest proportion of bad-weather crashes happen between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., when visibility is limited and roads are most likely to freeze.

Here are AAA’s tips for when you’re driving in snowy or icy conditions:

  • Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in bad weather, it’s better to avoid taking unnecessary risks by venturing out.
  • Drive slowly. Always adjust your speed down to account for lower traction when driving on snow or ice.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Apply the gas slowly to regain traction and avoid 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.
  • Increase your following distance. Allow five to six seconds of following distance between your vehicle and any vehicle in front of you. This space allows you time to stop safely if the other driver brakes suddenly.
  • Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal. Don’t pump the brakes.
  • 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 downhill slowly.
  • 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.

Pack the following in an emergency kit in your car — if you’re not already taking it with you otherwise:

  • Mobile phone and car charger
  • First-aid kit
  • Blankets
  • Drinking water/snacks for everyone in the car including pets
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Rags, paper towels or pre-moistened wipes
  • Basic toolkit including duct tape and warning devices such as flares or reflectors
  • Ice scraper/snow brush
  • Jumper cables/jump pack
  • Traction aid such as sand, salt or non-clumping cat litter
  • Tarp, raincoat and gloves
  • Shovel

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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