AAA recommends that all
drivers have the
following equipment in a winter emergency kit:
Winter driving conditions have arrived in full force throughout the
country and no matter how experienced you are behind the wheel, that means
the roads do get more dangerous. According to Dr. Tom Maze, professor of
civil engineering at Iowa State University, drivers in heavy snowfall are
just as likely to have an accident as those with a blood-alcohol level of
0.13. AAA of Michigan reports that the number of aid calls it receives per
day doublesófrom 2,000 to 4,000 Ė with every snowfall.
According to Greg Stevens, senior technical leader for vehicle dynamics
at Ford Motor Company, car technology has come a long way, but it canít
take the place of common sense.
"Newer cars like the Ford Fusion offer traction control and antilock
brakes, which do a great job of helping keep control in bad weather. But,
you still have to modify your driving habits. With snow or ice on the
road, the limiting factor is tire grip for braking or cornering."
Stevensís advice is simple Ė "Slow down, allow more time for braking,
and stay alert."
Development engineer Jamie Cullen agrees. For Cullen, it can be winter
all year round as he travels to wherever winter conditions are to test
Ford cars and trucks. "We pretty much replicate every test conducted on
dry pavement in snow," said Cullen. "We test in Michigan, Manitoba,
Sweden, and my native New Zealand."
From his experience, here are Cullenís top five winter driving tips to
try and remain accident free:
1. Tires: The most important thing you can do is have good
tires. If theyíre getting close to the wear bars, you should have them
replaced. Make sure your tires are at the correct pressure; tires that
were at the specified pressure in summer will probably be low with the
colder temperatures experienced in winter.
2. Brake earlier: Most people think they have more grip than
they actually do, which leads to sliding right through the intersection.
If youíre coming to a turn or a stop, start applying brake pressure twice
as early as on dry roads.
3. Let ABS work for you: If your vehicle has an antilock braking
system (ABS), you may feel a vibration in the brake pedal as the system
prevents wheel lock up. Keep firm pressure on the brake pedal until your
vehicle comes to a complete stop. Do not pump your brakes if your car has
4. Unwind the steering wheel: As the front tires begin to slip,
most people tend to turn the wheel even more. However, the tires already
canít cope with the current situation, so asking them to do more isnít the
answer. Instead, Cullen recommends turning the wheel back slightly and tap
the brakes a little to put more weight on the front end to help the front
tires regain traction.
5. Be prepared: On a vehicle development test or on a winter
vacation, Cullen always brings warm clothes, heavy boots and a blanket.
Cullen also carries a multi-tool, a first-aid kit, and a cell phone, just
Finally, donít let your guard down halfway through the season.
According to Craig Layson, owner of Stony Creek Collision in Ypsilanti,
Mich., the worst accidents usually happen later in the season: "For the
first snow of the year, most people do slow down, and the majority of cars
we see have simply slid off the road, with damage limited to their sides
and suspension. Itís the last snowfall of the season where we see the most
damage. People are more comfortable driving in the snow, arenít slowing
down like they should, and that usually results in more serious
13: The number of times more likely to be involved in an
driving in heavy snow than under normal conditions. That is the same
elevated risk as driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.13.
Iowa State University
$248 million: Economic impact of winter-related accidents in the
state of Iowa alone.
Iowa State University
1.5 million: Annual weather-related accidents in the U.S.,
accounting for 800,000 injuries and 7,000 fatalities. National Academy of