Snow and cold weather make driving conditions more difficult for motorists, especially during storms when icy conditions prevail. AAA Nebraska advises motorists to prepare themselves and their vehicles for dangerous road conditions.
“Motorists should allow extra time to get to their destination,” advises Rose White, public affairs director for AAA Nebraska. “Since speed is a factor in many crashes, never be in a hurry when road conditions are slick. Monitor weather conditions and follow the advice from authorities. If it is not safe to travel and you don’t need to venture out, don’t drive. Wait until road conditions improve.”
The Nebraska Department of Roads’ 511 Advanced Traveler Information System provides the public with information that will assist commuters and travelers along Nebraska’s highway system. There are three ways to access their 24-hour-a-day, year-round Nebraska road condition and traveler information—by phone, website, and mobile app.
The 511 phone system does not provide weather forecasts. It will provide current road condition information. To access 511 via a cell phone or landline dial 511. If outside of Nebraska, dial 800-906-9069.
The 511 website can be accessed on the Nebraska Department of Roads home page www.roads.nebraska.gov or www.511.nebraska.gov. The 511 website provides a wealth of information including road conditions, camera views of selected roadways, current weather information, and colored coded roadways to show speeds to indicate a slowdown in real-time.
Nebraska 511 has an app that works on smartphones and tablets operating on the Apple and Android platforms. Visit the App Store or Google Play and search for Nebraska 511.
AAA recommends that motorists keep emergency supplies in their vehicle, including a cell phone, boots, gloves, blankets, a coffee can filled with candles and matches, flashlight and reflective triangle.
“If you become stranded on a highway, it is best to stay with the vehicle. If you can start your engine, run it for a few minutes at a time, just long enough to keep warm. Always clear snow away from the exhaust pipe area before you start the engine. A snow blocked exhaust pipe could cause deadly carbon monoxide gases to enter the passenger compartment,” warns White.
“If you see a stranded motorist and you are unable to render aid, dial *55 on your cell phone and provide the dispatcher with a description of the vehicle, number of passengers, if known, and details about the vehicle’s location, such as the nearest mile marker number or landmark,” she added.
AAA recommends the following tips for winter driving:
Before starting out in snowy weather, 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, lights, brake lights, rearview camera lens, and turn signals are clear of ice and snow.
To increase your visibility during the daylight hours, drive with your low-beam headlights illuminated.
All passengers should be safely secured with their safety belts fastened. Any items that may become dangerous flying projectiles during a crash should be stored in the trunk.
The driver’s hands should be properly positioned on the steering wheel, keeping in mind that during a crash, the steering column airbag may deploy. (Check your vehicle’s owner manual for proper hand positioning.)
If you have teen drivers in your family, restrict their driving privileges until you have the opportunity to test their driving skills in an empty, snow packed or icy parking lot. They need to understand that vehicles operate differently when roads are slick or snow packed.
Avoid fast acceleration and hard braking. Both may cause skids.
Watch for icy surfaces on bridges and intersections, even when the rest of the road seems to be in good condition.
Always reduce your speed and increase your following distance when poor road or weather conditions prevail.
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. Hard braking may cause a vehicle to skid.
Never use cruise control if the roads are wet, slick or snow packed.
Remember that four-wheel drive helps you to get going quicker, but it won't help you stop any faster.
If your vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes, apply constant, firm pressure to the pedal when stopping. You may feel or hear a thumping sound when the system is engaged.
If following a snow plow, maintain a distance of 100 feet, except to pass.
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 0 degrees, a good battery has 35 percent less starting power. Many automotive facilities can quickly check your battery’s power using a hand-held computer. Keep the fuel tank at least half-full to avoid fuel-line freeze-up. Each of your vehicles should be equipped with a winter emergency road kit that contains the following:
Plastic container of abrasive material such as sand or salt. (Use an empty plastic ice cream bucket or gallon jug to store your sand.)
Small snow shovel and ice scraper
Flashlight with extra batteries
Winter grade windshield washer solvent
Empty coffee can filled with candles and matches (mini-furnace)
Mobile phone, pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers including family members and emergency services
Blankets, thermal sleeping bag, boots, heavy socks, gloves, hat, and scarves to prevent frostbite and hypothermia
Jumper cable with safety goggles
Warning devices (flares or triangles)
Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)
Large plastic trash bags, newspapers, floor mats (use as insulation between layers of clothing)
Red scarf or flag, or folding windshield sun visor that indicates Call Police
Android and iPhone users can download AAA Mobile, AAA’s mobile smartphone app that provides AAA services for all motorists, such as mapping and gas price comparisons, as well as member-exclusive benefits including roadside assistance. AAA Membership is not required to download and use AAA apps, but is necessary to take advantage of unique member benefits such as roadside assistance. For more information on AAA Mobile, visit AAA.com/Mobile.