WINTER WEATHER PREPAREDNESS: Know what to do when driving throug - ABC21: Your Weather Authority

WINTER WEATHER PREPAREDNESS: Know what to do when driving through the storm

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How should you drive when snow occurs? What should you do if stranded by a blizzard or ice storm? Are you weather ready?

When Winter Storm Warnings or Winter Weather Advisories are issued consider changing your plans before you leave. A release from the Indianapolis office of the National Weather Service (NWS) said if you travel, tell people your planned travel route and arrival time and a phone number to be reached at. The Indiana State Police is reminding drivers to always obey all posted signs and adjust vehicle speed according to weather, road and traffic conditions.

When driving, allow plenty of space between vehicles for extra stopping distance. The Indiana Department of Transportation is reminding people to keep a safe distance behind snow plow operators. A rule of thumb is if salt is hitting your vehicle, you are following too close. Drivers should also avoid passing snow plows on two lane roads.

If you are driving and your vehicle begins to skid, the NWS says to remain calm, ease your foot off the gas and turn your wheels in the direction you want the front of the car to go. If your vehicle has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), apply steady pressure to the brake petal. The NWS says to never pump the brakes on an ABS equipped vehicle. 

Keep in mind bridges and overpasses often become icy first. Snow and blowing snow can cause sudden restrictions in visibility. INDOT said a saying to remember while driving is "ice and snow, keep it slow." The NWS says more than 6,000 fatalities occur on roadways each year due to weather conditions. If you are having trouble seeing because of the weather conditions, pull over to the side of the road and stop your car until visibility improves. The NWS says to turn off your lights and use your parking break when stopped so another car won't mistakenly follow your tail/brake lights and end up hitting you.

Preventative maintenance for vehicles can reduce the chances of encountering car trouble. Most drivers don/t think about maintenance until stranded on the side of the road.

  • check tire pressure and tread depth.
  • check battery, exhaust system, heater and defroster. Ensure the battery is not too old and that the terminals are tight and free of corrosion.
  • check antifreeze. Make sure that 50/50 antifreeze-water mixture is at its proper radiator level.
  • change oil every 3000 to 5000 miles.
  • check windshield wipers and blades. Replace blades each year and ensure extra wiper fluid is on hand.
  • keep an emergency kit in the vehicle that includes at a minimum a flashlight, blanket, jumper cables, clothes, tool kit and food.

If you become stranded in a snow or ice storm, stay with your vehicle as it provides dry shelter and protection from the cold and wind. The release said you are also more likely to be found with your vehicle than if you leave it to seek shelter.

Walking even a short distance in blinding snowstorm may quickly get you lost. The release said damp clothes and bitter wind chills quickly lead to frostbite or hypothermia. While stranded, run the motor and heater just enough to warm the vehicle. You should keep the exhaust pipe snow-free and a window open slightly to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. You can make your vehicle more visible by attaching a bright colored cloth on the antenna. At night, turn the dome light on.

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