AAA: Frigid temperatures to create dangerous overnight icing on roads

Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 4:24 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - AAA is warning drivers that Monday night’s arctic blast will create dangerous, icy conditions on the roads and could leave you stranded with a dead battery.  

Untreated areas of the road that are wet or slushy when the temperatures drop after sunset will freeze solid making evening, overnight and early morning travel treacherous.

“With temperatures in the teens in the overnight forecast, AAA encourages drivers to delay traveling until temperatures warm back up above freezing and the roads can thaw tomorrow morning,” says Morgan Dean, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “While some vehicles are better equipped for snowy roadways, no vehicle or set of tires can prevent sliding on ice.”

For those that have to get out on the roads, AAA offers these tips for driving on ice and snow:

1. Don’t continue at the same speed you would be traveling in clear, dry conditions

  • Rain, snow and ice can dramatically reduce your tires’ traction
  • Drivers should slow down to regain the traction that is lost due to the weather

2. Don’t brake and turn at the same time

  • Asking your vehicle to do two things at a time makes it more likely that your tires will lose traction
  • Brake first, then turn, then accelerate.

3. Don’t follow behind other vehicles as closely as you would when driving in clear, dry conditions

  • Slick roads means your vehicle cannot slow down as quickly.
  • Increase following distances to 8 seconds or more
  • Always keep open space to at least one side of your vehicle, in case you need make an emergency lane change maneuver.

4. Don’t be rough with your steering, acceleration and braking.

  • If you are not gentle with steering, acceleration and braking, your vehicle’s balance can be negatively affected, increasing the chance of experiencing a skid.
  • Always steer, accelerate and brake smoothly.

5. Don’t hit the brakes if you start to skid

  • Slamming on the brakes can make the skid even worse
  • If you are approaching a patch of ice, brake during your approach. Applying pressure to your brakes while on the ice will only throw you into a skid.
  • If you do start to skid, ease off of the accelerator or brake and steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go.

6. 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.
  • Be aware of traffic ahead and slow down even more if you start to see brake lights or fish tailing cars.

Make sure to also charge your car battery as they can become 35 percent weaker at 32 degrees, according to AAA. Check your tire pressure and vehicle’s cooling system as well. Finally, always have an emergency car kit in your vehicle.  In the winter, AAA says an emergency car kit should include the following:

  • 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), and blankets
  • Warning devices (flares or triangles)
  • Drinking water and non-perishable snacks for both human and pet passengers
  • First-aid kit
  • Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)
  • Mobile phone pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers including family and emergency services and charger.

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