AAA Offers Tips To Keep Drivers Safe in Winter Weather

By Payton Tholstrup

Winter weather is in the forecast for Kansas for the next several days. AAA is sharing tips on how to drive safely in winter weather, as well as what items you should have in your car during the winter. They want to remind drivers how important it is to be extra careful and slow down.

“Ice and snow can cause significant safety problems by reducing visibility and making it difficult to maneuver or stop,” Shawn Steward, AAA Kansas spokesman, said. “It’s important for drivers to be cautious and take it slow if they have to get out on the roads.”

According to AAA, hazardous storms and bad weather account of an average of nearly 5000,000 crashes and more than 2,200 traffic fatalities in the United States every winter. If you don’t have to travel, they suggest staying home if possible.

To get to your destination safely, AAA shared the following tips:

  • Make sure your tires have good tread for adequate traction and are properly inflated. For every 10-degree drop in temperatures, tires can lose 1 poundn of air pressure.
  • Have your car’s battery checked by a professional to make sure it can hold up during cold weather. When the temperature hits 32 degrees, a battery’s starting power drops 35 percent. Additionally, the average lifespan of a battery is three to five years.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half-full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
  • Make sure windshield wiper blades are in good condition and the wiper fluid reservoir is full. Also, motorists should use a winter blend of wiper fluid that resists freezing on windshields.
  • Make sure all lights — including headlights, tail lights, brake lights and turn signals — are working properly so you can see and be seen in bad weather conditions.

They also said even if you are going a short distance, you need to make sure you have a fully charged phone and a well stocked emergency kit with you. AAA shares below what items should be in your emergency kit:

  • A bag of abrasive materials such as sand, salt or cat litter for gaining traction in snow or ice.
  • A snow shovel
  • A flashlight
  • A winter coat, hat and gloves
  • An ice scraper and snow brush
  • Jumper cables to help charge batteries
  • A blanket or sleeping bag
  • A warning flare or reflective triangles
  • A mobile phone and emergency charger
  • Food and water
  • A first-aid kit

Overall, the following tips can keep you safe this winter:

  • Stay home. If you don’t have to go out, stay home. Even if you can drive well in winter conditions, not everyone else can. A better option is to stay home until crews can properly clear roadways.
  • Check road conditions. Before you leave, assess the conditions of roads along your route. A good source for this is the Kansas Department of Transportation’s KanDrive site, found at
  • Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on ice- and snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
  • 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.
  • Manage a skid. If you lose traction and begin to spin or skid on snow or ice, don’t slam on the brakes. Steer in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go, until your tires regain traction.
  • Increase your following distance 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, 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 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.

If you would like more information, AAA has a resource called “How To Go On Snow And Ice” which can be found here:

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