With the first signs of winter weather appearing throughout Northeast Ohio, we’ve already seen a glimpse of the dangerous commute that the weather brings.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported an average of 86 deadly accidents caused by winter weather conditions in Ohio each year.
According to the Ohio Department Of Public Safety, there were 19,186 crashes in conditions affected by snow or sleet during the last winter season.
AAA and ODOT offered the following tips before you hit the slick roads this season:
Do not tailgate. Normal following distances of three to four seconds on dry pavement should be extended to a minimum of five to six seconds when driving on slippery surfaces. The extra time will provide additional braking room should a sudden stop become necessary.
Never use cruise control on slippery roads. If your vehicle hydroplanes or skids, you will lose the ability to regain some traction simply by lifting off the accelerator. It will be harder to recover from the loss of traction if cruise control is active.
Slow down and adjust your speed to the road conditions. Leave yourself ample room to stop. Accelerate, turn and brake as gradually and smoothly as you can.
Don’t slam on the brakes. If your car begins to skid, continue to steer in the direction you want the car to go. Slamming on the brakes will only make your vehicle harder to control.
Use extreme caution on bridges and overpasses. Black ice typically forms first in shaded areas of the roadway and on bridges and overpasses that freeze first and melt last. Although the road leading up to a bridge may be fine, the bridge itself could be a sheet of ice.
React quickly. Watch the traffic ahead and slow down immediately at the sight of brake lights, skidding cars or emergency flashers.
Clear things off. Remove any snow on your vehicle’s windows, lights, brake lights and signals. Make sure you can see and be seen.
Give yourself time. Leave in plenty of time to reach your destination safely. It’s not worth putting yourself and others in a dangerous situation just to be on time.
Before you even leave your driveway, there are some things that AAA and ODOT say you can do to prepare for your winter commute:
Have your battery tested. A AAA survey found that two-thirds of American drivers have never proactively had their car battery tested. If a battery is more than three years old have it checked by a professional to ensure it is strong enough to endure cold weather.
Replace worn windshield-wiper blades. If your climate is especially harsh, purchase one-piece, beam-type or rubber-clad “winter” blades to fight snow and ice buildup. Use cold-weather windshield washer solvent and carry an ice scraper.
Inspect your tires. Make sure tires have adequate tread depth – at least 4/32” – as worn tires can affect a driver’s ability to stop in slick conditions. An easy way to check for wear is by inserting a quarter into your tread groove. If the top of Washington's head is exposed, the tread depth is less than 4/32" and it’s time to replace your tires. Also, check that your car has a spare tire and keep it properly inflated in case you need it. In harsh winter climates, a set of snow tires may be a wise investment.
Carry an emergency kit equipped for winter weather. The kit should include sand or kitty litter, a small shovel, flashlight, an ice scraper or snow brush, booster cables, a blanket, gloves or mittens and flares or reflective triangles.
Look Ahead. Before leaving home, find out about the driving conditions on . Safe drivers know the weather and their limits. If the weather is bad, remember: Ice and Snow … Take It Slow – or just don’t go.
It's nearly impossible to avoid commuting through winter weather conditions in Ohio but following these tips can hopefully keep you a little safer on the winter roads.
The Power of 5 Weather team will keep you up to date on all the winter weather conditions around Northeast Ohio.