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Good advice on driving in icy weather

The wintry mix forecast for the Washington area on Thursday sure sounds more typical for local travel hazards than the Dec. 18-19 blizzard, but don't get too comfortable about that. John B. Townsend II at AAA Mid-Atlantic sent along some driving tips for the approaching storm.

-- Replace worn wiper blades that streak the windshield. Fill the washer reservoir bottle with a washer solvent that won't freeze. To prevent damage to your wiper blades or wiper motor, be sure the wipers are free of ice and turned off before starting the engine.
-- Carry a winter driving kit in your trunk that includes a bag of abrasive material such as sand, salt or cat litter, ice scraper, traction mat, window-washing solvent blanket, gloves or mittens blanket, and cell phone.
-- Use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle.
-- Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
-- Gentle pressure on the accelerator panel when starting is the best method for retaining traction and avoiding skids.
-- Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on icy roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning -- nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
-- 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.
-- Don't stop going up a hill. There's nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
-- The stopping distance required on ice at zero degrees Fahrenheit is twice the amount required at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. To compensate for the longer stopping distances required on slippery surfaces, focus your attention at far head as possible (at least 20 to 30 seconds) and allow the greatest margin of safety to the front.

Stay out of trouble
Local transportation agencies are most worried about the storm's impact on travel early Thursday morning. AAA notes that since the time period predicted for early morning icing is relatively short, wait until the ice melts before heading out.

By Robert Thomson  |  December 30, 2009; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  Weather  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, travel tips  
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Next: Ice driving tips: Controlling a skid

Comments

Something else that is important that I think a lot of people may not know is to know how your antilock brakes work. The purpose of antilock brakes is to pulse the brakes far faster than a person can do so as to prevent the brakes from locking up the wheels and causing a skid. When the antilock feature kicks in, you'll feel a very fast vibration in the brake pedal and it may sound a little bit like popcorn popping. When this happens, KEEP YOUR FOOT FIRMLY ON THE BRAKE PEDAL! The system is doing what it's supposed to do!

I know all too many people who feel the vibration and immediately let up, thinking they've done something wrong. In fact it's letting up on the pedal in an antilock-equipped car that is the wrong thing to do.

Posted by: 1995hoo | December 30, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

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