By AAA of Western and Central New York
With winter storm warnings in effect for Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, AAA wants to make sure drivers across the region are prepared to battle the snow and cold. Hazardous storms and inclement weather are a factor in more than half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter, according to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. AAA urges drivers to slow down, be cautious and prepare their vehicles for the cold days ahead for their own personal safety.
With many schools closed this week for February break, AAA reminds families to stay home if possible and to obey any driving bans that may go into effect. The less cars on the road, the safer it is for drivers and emergency crews. If a travel ban is issued, AAA may be unable to provide service in affected areas.
“If you have no choice but to venture out into ice and snow with frigid temperatures, remember to pack an emergency kit and drive slowly,” said Elizabeth Carey, director of public relations for AAA WCNY. “However, if you really don’t have to go out, stay home. Even if you can drive well in the ice and snow, not everyone else can.”
AAA expects call volume across Western and Central New York to increase for tow requests amid heavy snowfall followed by battery issues as temperatures drop. Member safety is our primary concern at AAA Western and Central New York with any type of roadside assistance especially in times of severe weather. Motorists who need assistance should request road service via the free AAA mobile app or AAA.com to avoid waiting on hold amid high call volume.
To help keep drivers safe on the road, AAA offers the following tips for driving in winter weather:
•Avoid driving during heavy snowfall.
If you go off the road, stay seat belted in your vehicle and call for help. If you are in an emergency situation, call 9-1-1. If you are stranded in your vehicle, keep the tailpipe clear of snow to ensure proper ventilation, and keep the window cracked open.
•Do not tailgate. Normal following distances of three to four seconds on dry pavement should be extended to a minimum of five to six seconds when driving on slippery surfaces. The extra time will provide additional braking room should a sudden stop become necessary.
•Never use cruise control on slippery roads. If your vehicle hydroplanes or skids, you will lose the ability to regain some traction simply by lifting off the accelerator. It will be harder to recover from the loss of traction if cruise control is active.
•Slow down and adjust your speed to the road conditions. Leave yourself ample room to stop. Accelerate, turn and brake as gradually and smoothly as you can.
•Don’t slam on the brakes. If your car begins to skid, continue to steer in the direction you want the car to go. Slamming on the brakes will only make your vehicle harder to control.
•Use extreme caution on bridges and overpasses. Black ice typically forms first in shaded areas of the roadway and on bridges and overpasses that freeze first and melt last. Although the road leading up to a bridge may be fine, the bridge itself could be a sheet of ice.
•React quickly. Watch the traffic ahead and slow down immediately at the sight of brake lights, skidding cars or emergency flashers.
•Make sure your vehicle is free of snow before requesting service.
As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 887,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.