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Queens Chronicle

Winter driving safety tips from AAA New York

Routine precautions make sense

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Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014 10:30 am

AAA is reminding drivers that a few simple precautions can greatly improve car performance and safety during the winter.

“In snowy, cold weather, most calls to AAA are for dead batteries, flat tires, no traction, extrications and lockouts,” Robert Sinclair, manager of media relations for AAA New York said. “With this in mind, there are things drivers can do before and during the storm to ensure they make it through this potentially dangerous weather event,” Sinclair said.

These include:

• Have a qualified technician check the condition of the vehicle’s cooling, charging and exhaust systems with special attention paid to the battery, which can lose 30 percent of its power when the temperature hits freezing, and 60 percent power loss when the thermometer drops to zero. Make sure the vehicle has good wipers and topped-off windshield washer fluid.

• When starting out in bad weather, test traction by jamming the brakes, with no other cars around, and seeing if the car slides.

• Don’t let all-wheel-drive create false security. Posted speed limits are for ideal conditions. During snowstorms, we all see “cowboys” in vehicles with all-wheel-drive and their superior traction speeding along. But, while AWD is great to get moving, the vehicles stop no better than other vehicles. Vehicles take up to nine times longer to stop in ice and snow compared to clear pavement. Slow down and leave extra following distance in snowy conditions.

• Be prepared. A winter survival kit can mean just that, survival in potentially dangerous winter conditions. The kit should have: a flashlight, warm clothes and gloves, nonperishable snacks, a blanket, a small shovel and an abrasive like sand or nonclumping kitty litter. The most important kit items are a cell phone and car charger.

• Clear the vehicle before starting the engine. Make sure the tailpipe is clear of any piled-up snow. Clear all snow from a vehicle so it doesn’t blow off and blind another driver.

Further information is available online at ny.aaa.com.

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