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Winter Driving Tips in the Lehigh Valley

Winter is coming! No, really, the first flakes of the season could be here any day now. In fact, we’re a little surprised they haven’t shown up already.

As we make the shift from driving where there isn’t much on the roads, to sometimes not being able to get down a street, here are some driving tips that, even if you already know them, are good to brush up on.

1. Get your car serviced

It’s always a good idea to have your mechanic look at your vehicle to ensure it’s ready for the winter weather. You can also check on recalls at www.nhtsa.gov/recalls

2. Carry Items in your vehicle for winter weather:

• Snow shovel, broom, and ice scraper.
• Abrasive material such as sand or kitty litter, in case your vehicle gets stuck in the snow.
• Jumper cables, flashlight, and warning devices such as flares and emergency markers.
• Blankets for protection from the cold.
• A cell phone with charger, water, food, and any necessary medicine (for longer trips or when driving in lightly populated areas).

Plan your route: Where are you headed and what are you doing? Let someone know if you’re heading out in inclement weather.

3. Always wear your seat belt every trip, every time

4. Stay Alert

Keep your gas tank close to full whenever possible, and, on longer trips, plan enough time to stop to stretch, get something to eat, return calls or text messages, and change drivers or rest if you feel drowsy.

5. Avoid Risky Driving Behaviors

Driving in the winter isn’t like driving during other parts of the year. Remember that. Know that the road conditions make it inappropriate for regular driving type activities. It’s harder to stop and control your vehicle. Slow down!

6. What to Do in a Winter Emergency

If you are stopped or stalled in wintry weather, follow these safety rules:
• Stay with your car and don’t overexert yourself.
• Put bright markers on the antenna or windows and keep the interior dome light turned on.
• To avoid asphyxiation from carbon monoxide poisoning, don’t run your car for long periods of time with the windows up or in an enclosed space. If you must run your vehicle, clear the exhaust pipe of any snow and run it only sporadically — just long enough to stay warm.

Source: United States Department of Transportation

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Winter Driving Tips from AAA

Know snow! Top tips for winter driving infographic. (PRNewsFoto/Bridgestone Americas, Inc.)
There are a lot of people who think they are great winter time drivers, and even if you count yourself as one, it’s never a bad idea to brush up on your skills.

Here are a few winter driving tips from AAA that can help keep you safe during the cold driving months, even if you already think you’re an expert.

AAA recommends the following winter driving tips:

Avoid driving while you’re fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks.
Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
Make certain your tires are properly inflated.
Never mix radial tires with other tire types.
Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).
Always look and steer where you want to go.
Use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle.

Tips for long-distance winter trips:

Watch weather reports prior to a long-distance drive or before driving in isolated areas. Delay trips when especially bad weather is expected. If you must leave, let others know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival.
Always make sure your vehicle is in peak operating condition by having it inspected by a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility.
Keep at least half a tank of gasoline in your vehicle at all times.
Pack a cellular telephone with your local AAA’s telephone number, plus blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any needed medication in your vehicle.
If you become snow-bound, stay with your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don’t try to walk in a severe storm. It’s easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
Don’t over exert yourself if you try to push or dig your vehicle out of the snow.
Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
Make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running.
Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps.
If possible run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill and to conserve gasoline.

Tips for driving in the snow:

Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding 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.
Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. 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 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 down hill as slowly as possible.
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.
Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.
Source: AAA

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