Snow, rain and ice make the winter months a risky time for motorists to be behind the wheel. According to data just released from the Iowa State Patrol, officers responded to 195 crashes and 350 driver assists during the snow storm Thursday, Feb. 4 at 3 a.m. through Friday, Feb. 5 at 7 a.m. Of the crashes, 169 caused property damage, 25 resulted in personal injury, and one was fatal.
With more snow in the forecast the next few days, Iowa motorists are reminded that when it comes to driving in winter weather conditions, it’s important to revisit the safe winter driving playbook. Although this holds true for even the most seasoned driver, additional caution is urged for new and mature drivers when it comes to the hazards of snow and ice. These tips are for everyone:
AAA Top Ten Tips for Winter Driving
- Before starting out, remove ice and snow from the entire car, mirrors and lights so you have clear driving visibility.
- Don’t use cruise control in precipitation and freezing temperatures.
- Remember that four-wheel drive helps you to get going quicker, but it won’t help you stop any faster.
- Familiarize yourself with your vehicle’s braking system. Drivers with anti-lock brakes should apply firm, constant pressure while those without may need to pump the pedal in order to avoid loss of traction while stopping.
- Always drive at a speed that matches the prevailing visibility, traffic and road conditions – even if that means driving below the posted speed limit.
- Compensate for reduced traction by increasing your following distances (normally three to four seconds) to eight to ten seconds.
- Allow sufficient room for maintenance vehicles and plows, stay at least 200 feet back and, if you need to pass, go to the other vehicle’s left.
- Watch for icy surfaces on bridges and intersections, even if the rest of the road seems to be in good condition.
- If you get stuck in snow or ice, straighten the wheel and accelerate slowly. Add sand or cat litter under the drive wheels to help avoid spinning the tires.
- If your tires lose traction, continue to look and steer in the direction you want to go. If the drive wheels start to spin or slide while going up a hill, ease off the accelerator slightly and then gently resume speed.
Additional winter weather driving tips are available through THIS LINK to AAA’s How to Go on Ice and Snow booklet.
In addition to contacting AAA for roadside assistance via the toll free number, members can also use www.AAA.com or the AAA mobile app.
AAA Tips for Vehicle Prep
- Carry a charged cell phone
- Top off your gas tank
- Check washer fluid and anti-freeze, to ensure they are at adequate levels.
- Tires should be inspected to ensure they are properly inflated and have sufficient tread depth.
- Equip your vehicle with a snow shovel, ice scraper, jumper cables, flares, a flashlight and some warm clothing and blankets.