AAA: Prepare your car for winter driving now!

December 9, 2013

Across the Philadelphia 5-county area, AAA Mid-Atlantic saw an 11 percent increase in emergency roadside service calls yesterday compared to last Sunday (12/1). The Philadelphia area had 1,211 service calls during yesterday's storm – 38 percent or 465 calls were for tows – 9 percent or 109 calls were for extrications back on to the roadway. In addition, tow calls were up 26 percent compared to last Sunday and extrication calls were up 97 percent.

Across AAA Mid-Atlantic's service area (DC, DE, MD, NJ, PA and VA), Delaware was the hardest hit area. Delaware had 244 calls during yesterday's storm – a 25 percent increase from last Sunday – 42 percent or 102 of Delaware's calls were for tows – 16 percent or 38 of Delaware's calls were for extrications back on to the roadway.

AAA Mid-Atlantic warns motorists not to be caught off guard again. With more wintery weather expected tomorrow, now is the time to take the necessary precautions to prepare for winter driving.

"Many motorists were caught off guard by yesterday's intense snow storm," said Jenny Robinson, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "Don't let it happen again. While we can't control the forecast, motorists should take the necessary precautions to prepare their vehicles for winter driving conditions. Now is the time to have vehicles checked over for the season and to put snow shovels, ice scrapers and an emergency kit in the trunk."

Driving in Ice and Snow – How to Go on Ice and Snow (downloadable brochure )

  • Before starting out in snowy weather, remove the snow from the entire car (including the roof, mirrors and lights) so it doesn't blow onto your windshield or the windshields of other drivers.
  • Slow down - Drivers are more likely to lose control of the vehicle when roads are wet or icy.
  • Increase following distance - This will allow time for a controlled stop.
  • Know When to Brake and When to Steer - When traveling over 25 MPH, AAA recommends steering rather than braking to avoid a collision in wintery conditions, as less distance is required to steer around an object than to brake to a stop. In slick conditions, sudden braking can lead to loss of vehicle control.
  • Do Not Use Cruise Control and Avoid Tailgating - Normal following distances of three to four seconds for dry pavement should be increased to eight to 10 seconds when driving on icy, slippery surfaces
  • If you are stranded, make sure the tailpipe is free of snow to prevent carbon monoxide from building up in the vehicle. if you are sure the car's exhaust pipe is not blocked, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour or so depending upon the amount of gas in the tank. Stay safely in your vehicle if you can, and if you have to get out, exit the vehicle away from traffic.

Before tomorrow's expected snow event:

  • Check tires, wiper blades and car batteries before hitting the road.
  • Have an emergency road kit with: Ice scraper and snow brush; Sand, cat litter, or traction mats; small shovel; Gloves, hats and blankets; Flashlight with fresh batteries; shop rags or paper towels; Jumper cables; Warning flares or triangles; Drinking water; Non-perishable energy/granola bars; First-aid kit.
  • Mobile phone and car charger with important numbers pre-programmed, including a roadside assistance provider.

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