|As extreme cold weather approaches, AAA Texas reminds drivers that traveling in winter conditions can be challenging. During winter weather, drivers are encouraged to stay tuned to weather forecasts and delay trips when especially bad weather is expected. Drivers should also heed all warnings and follow guidance from local law enforcement, as well as city, county and state leaders. Before hitting the road, people should let others know their intended route, destination and estimated time of arrival.
Preparing a vehicle for driving in winter weather
- To see clearly during winter weather, clean the outside and inside of the windshield before traveling.
- Keep vehicle’s windshield and rear-window defrosters in good working condition.
- Replace worn windshield wiper blades if they cause streaking. Change wiper blades every six months, especially before driving in bad weather.
- Clear all snow and ice from vehicles before driving. This will increase driver’s visibility and prevent drivers of other vehicles from being blinded by snow blowing off your vehicle.
- Use an ice scraper to remove snow and ice from the windshield and all windows, including side and rear windows. This will improve the driver’s ability to see nearby vehicles.
Good Tires are Essential In Winter Weather
AAA Texas and Discount Tire have teamed up to remind drivers about the importance of well-maintained tires, which are critical to maintain traction on wet roads:
- Inflate tires to the correct pressure when tires are cool and haven’t recently been driven on. Check the tire pressure often, at least once per month. Low tire pressure results in poor handling and braking, reduced gas mileage, and excessive wear.
- Check the tread depth. A tire’s ability to stop within a safe distance becomes compromised when its tread depth reaches 4/32 inch. An easy way to determine if a tire is worn out is to place an upside-down quarter (not a penny) in a tire tread. If you can see the top of Washington’s head, it’s time to replace the tire. Check your tire’s tread periodically for uneven wear patterns and replace tires if necessary.
- Rotate your tires regularly.
- Know the age of your tires. As a tire ages, its rubber becomes hard and brittle, losing elasticity and strength. Therefore, the older a tire, the higher the risk for failure. AAA Texas recommends replacing any tire that’s six years old or older.
Driving In Winter Conditions
- Turn on headlights to increase visibility.
- Reduce speed and leave plenty of room to stop. Drivers should allow at least three times more space than usual between their vehicle and vehicles in front of them.
- Brake gently to avoid skidding. Even careful and experienced drivers can skid on slippery surfaces. When a vehicle begins to skid, it’s important not to panic, avoid slamming on the brakes, and continue to look and steer in the direction you want the vehicle to go.
- Do not use cruise control on any wet, snow-covered or icy roads.
- Be especially aware of possible icy spots on bridges and overpasses, which freeze sooner than roads. And, even at temperatures above freezing, if conditions are wet, drivers may encounter ice in shady areas.
- Be careful on infrequently traveled and rural roads, which may not be cleared as often as other roads.
Leaving the roadway
- If pulling off the road is necessary, drivers should wait for a safe opportunity.
- It is best to pull into a rest area or parking lot, rather than on the road’s shoulder.
- Remember, Texas has a Slow Down Move Over Law which requires drivers to vacate the lane closest to an emergency vehicle or tow truck with lights flashing. If they are unable to safely move out of the lane then they must slow down 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit.
Additional Winter Driving Safety Tips from AAA Texas:
- Use your seatbelt every time you get in the vehicle.
- Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage. In fact, modern vehicles do not require idle time prior to driving.
- Make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running.
- Never leave your vehicle unattended with the engine running.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
Additional information on driving in winter conditions can be found at How to Go on Ice and Snow.
About AAA: AAA provides more than 64 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of independently owned motor clubs and nearly 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, AAA has been a leader and advocate for the motorist and safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. AAA Texas branch offices throughout the state can be found by visiting www.AAA.com.