State police, AAA offer winter weather driving tips

Passersby help push a stuck car out of th snow as another motorist tows it out in Richmond, Va., Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. Portions of Virginia are under a blizzard warning. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia State Police and AAA Tidewater are cautioning drivers to get ready for snowy and icy conditions on area roadways this weekend.

Super Doppler 10 Meteorologist Jeremy Wheeler reported Thursday that there is a strong possibility for snowfall on Saturday. Models are varying on how much snow will accumulate from this storm, but it could be substantial. Some light snow and sleet could mix in with expected rain Friday morning, too.

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To prepare for winter weather, drivers could check to make sure the battery, ignition and lights are all in good, working order. Fill up the tank, check windshield wipers, windshield wiper fluid, brakes and clear all your mirrors before you head out.

Make sure your tires are properly inflated and in good condition. The amount of traction determines how well the vehicle accelerates, turns and stops.

Check the level of antifreeze in your vehicle’s cooling system. The owner’s manual will help determine the best type of coolant for your vehicle.

When you get home, raise the wipers off the front windshield before the snow to avoid having them freeze to the glass overnight.

Washer fluids need to be filled with anti-freeze washer solvent. Wipe off wiper blades before you drive to avoid damage from ice.

Have an emergency winter driving kit in the vehicle, with items like 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. It’s a good idea to have a snack and bottled water, too.

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The first tip for driving in the snow? Avoid it if you can. If you must go out, here are somethings worth keeping in mind:

  • Buckle up. That goes for everyone in your car. State police say most crashes that happen during winter weather are caused by vehicles sliding into guardrails, into other vehicles or off the road. Wearing your seat belt will protect you and your passengers from being thrown around or seriously injured in an accident.
  • Remove the snow from your vehicle. We mentioned this earlier, but it’s important to remember, because snow left on any surface increases the possibility that visibility will be affected while driving.
  • Give yourself a bigger margin of safety around your vehicle. Don’t follow anyone too close. Leave a bigger gap in front of you, on the side of your vehicle and behind you as well.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface.
  • Be extra careful on bridges, overpasses, shaded spots and intersections when approaching other vehicles.
  • Brake slowly and gently — slamming on the brakes on ice covered roads dramatically increases the risk of losing control of your vehicle.
  • If you start to skid, take your foot off the brake, ease off the gas pedal and steer in the direction to want to go. This helps keep you from over correction, a common cause of crashes in snow and ice.
  • Drive slow! Going slower gives you more time to safely react should you encounter any issues on the road.
  • Use your headlights. Increasing your visibility will help you to avoid slick and dangerous spots on the road, and helps other drivers see you better.

WAVY’s team of Super Doppler 10 meteorologists is closely following the forecast models, and will have full updates on WAVY.com and on WAVY News 10. If you haven’t already, download the WAVY Weather App to get updates wherever you are.