AAA says drive to survive: Hazardous storms and inclement weather are a factor in more than half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter, according to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

To help keep drivers safe on the road, AAA offers the following tips for driving in winter weather:

— Stay Home. Your best bet for staying safe when the weather is poor is not going out unless you have to.

— 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.

— 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.

— Slow down and adjust your speed to the road conditions. Leave yourself ample room to stop.

— Don’t slam on the brakes. If your car begins to skid, continue to steer in the direction you want the car to go.

— 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.

To prepare a vehicle for the winter ahead, AAA recommends the following tips:

— Have your battery tested. Last winter in the region, AAA East Central jump started more than 70,000 batteries and replaced nearly 25,000.

— 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 all tires have adequate tread depth – at least 4/32” – as worn tires can affect a driver’s ability to stop in slick conditions.

— Carry an emergency kit equipped for winter weather. The kit should include sand or cat litter, a small shovel, flashlight, an ice scraper or snow brush, booster cables, a blanket, gloves or mittens and flares or reflective triangles.

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