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Extreme winter weather calls for driver preparation and caution
AAA Wisconsin offers tips
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Extreme winter weather can create extremely dangerous conditions for motorists.

Motorists are advised to monitor local weather reports and follow advice from authorities.  If it is not safe to travel and you don’t have to travel, don’t drive.  AAA Wisconsin advises anyone who must drive to prepare themselves and their car before driving in adverse conditions.

During severe winter weather AAA receives a high number of road service calls.  AAA Wisconsin also advises that priority service will be given to members who are stranded or in a dangerous situation.  AAA recommends if motorists become stranded, it is best to stay with the vehicle.   If you can start your engine, run it only long enough to keep warm.  Make sure the exhaust pipe is snow-free.

Proper preparation

Preparing for frigid weather conditions will help keep your vehicle on the road, advises AAA Wisconsin.  Motorists can help keep their vehicles on the road by doing the following:

• Check your battery strength. Faulty batteries cause more car starting problems than any other factor. At zero degrees, a good battery has 35 percent less starting power. Owners of electric vehicles should be aware that they may experience up to a 60% drop in driving range during cold weather.

• Park your car in the garage. If you have no garage, put a tarp over the hood or park protected from prevailing winds. To keep doors from freezing shut, place a plastic trash bag between the door and the frame.

• Keep the fuel tank at least half-full to avoid fuel-line freeze-up.

• Make sure your car has an emergency kit, which should include the following: Cell phone and charger, jumper cables, warm gear for all potential passengers – boots, hats, gloves, blankets, flares, flashlight and extra batteries, extra food and water for all potential passengers, general first aid kit, non-clumping kitty litter, ice scraper, snow brush and shovel, windshield washer fluid.

Defensive driving

When taking to the road during winter weather, remember to drive with caution to help maintain your safety as well as that of passengers, fellow motorists and roadside workers. AAA recommends the following tips for winter driving:

• Before starting out in snowy weather, take time to remove the snow from the entire car so it doesn’t blow onto your windshield or the windshields of other drivers. Make sure your mirrors and lights are clean.

• Drive with your low-beam headlights illuminated.

• Watch for icy surfaces on bridges and intersections, even when the rest of the road seems to be in good condition.

• Look farther ahead in traffic. Actions by other drivers will alert you to problems and give you extra seconds to react.
• When changing lanes, avoid cutting in front of trucks, which need more time and distance than passenger vehicles to stop.

• 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.

• Apply constant, firm pressure to the pedal with anti-lock brakes.