TOWSON, Md.– As snow is expected to start falling across all of Maryland and neighboring states Friday afternoon into the evening, the drive home from work will be quite hazardous for motorists.
"Even during fair weather days, the commute home for many is typically a stress-filled, challenging drive. Adding just an inch or two of snow will make the afternoon/evening drive home today even more problematic," warns Christine Sarames Delise, a spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "We remind motorists to slow down and use caution as roads will be slick and packed as commuters make their way home. If possible, we encourage drivers to leave work earlier and if you are home today, the safest option is to remain home through the storm."
AAA Mid-Atlantic offers the following driving tips for wintry conditions:
Increase your visibility – Clear any snow or ice from all windows, mirrors, and lights, as well as, the hood, roof, and trunk of your vehicle. Use an ice-scraper, brush, or spray de-icer to clear the snow and ice from your vehicle. Never run hot water over a windshield or window covered with ice as doing so can break the glass. Turn on the heater and/or defrost in your vehicle and make sure that your headlights are on. In Maryland, and many other states, it is the law to turn on your headlights when your windshield wipers are on.
Check your tire treads – Only drive a vehicle with tires that have excellent tread and that are rated for snow or all weather.
Clear your tire tracks – Starting out remove as much snow as possible from the area around your tires. In order to provide extra traction, spread road salt, sand, or kitty litter on the ground next to all tires.
Slow down - Stopping distances are significantly longer in snowy or icy conditions than in dry road conditions. The stopping distance required on ice at zero degrees Fahrenheit is twice the amount required at thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit. Increase your following distances to at least 10 seconds so that you will have more time to react to events in front of you.
Know your brakes – Antilock brakes work best when constant and firm pressure is applied to the brake pedal. Such pressure should prevent brake lockup and loss of steering. There is no need to pump antilock brakes multiple times, as is the case with brakes in older cars.
Control the skid – If you skid on a slick surface, keep your composure and do not panic. Take your foot off of the brake or accelerator. Next, resist the instinct to fight the car and steer into the direction it is traveling to gain traction. Lastly, begin to accelerate slowly.
Use extra caution on bridges and overpasses - Bridges and overpasses freeze first and melt last. Therefore, use extra caution as the roadway leading to the bridge may appear fine but the bridge itself could be a sheet of ice.
Drive in cleared lanes - Changing lanes unnecessarily puts you at greater risk of hitting a patch of ice or large areas of snow between lanes that may cause you to lose control of the vehicle. Also, avoid passing snowplows or salt trucks unless it is absolutely necessary.
Never use cruise control – Cruise control is not recommended when ice is on the road as the driver should be in full control of the vehicle at every second.
Guard against SUV overconfidence – Four-wheel-drive vehicles are great for initial traction and avoiding getting stuck, but once they are moving they have the same difficulty keeping control and stopping as other vehicles.
Carry an extra jug of windshield washer – With all of the chemicals and salt on the roads, large amounts of washer fluid will be required to retain visibility.
Finally, AAA Mid-Atlantic said always have an emergency car kit in your vehicle. In the winter, this kit should include: a bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats, snow shovel, flashlight with extra batteries, window washer solvent, ice scraper with brush, jumper cables, extra warm clothing (gloves, hats, scarves), blankets, warning devices (flares or triangles), drinking water, non-perishable snacks for both human and pet passengers, first-aid kit, basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench), a mobile phone pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers including family and emergency services and charger.
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