ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Snowy and icy roadways pose a serious threat to drivers. More than 2,000 road deaths occur every winter due to sloppy road conditions, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

“The snow and the ice on the roadway adds danger to the roadway and things can change very quickly — in an instant,” said Morgan Dean, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Senior Specialist for Public and Government Affairs.

Before the winter weather season starts, drivers should get their vehicles checked out and inspected. This includes checking your vehicle’s tires, fluids, belts, hoses, battery, windshield wipers, and headlights.

Once the snow and ice begin to fall, it’s important to plan out extra time to prep your vehicle. Drivers need to make sure their vehicle is completely cleared before they even think about driving on the roads.

“I think we all have been going down the road and we’ve seen where [drivers] cleared out just a little circle right in front of their head where they can see out the windshield. That’s very dangerous. It limits your view,” Dean said. “The second reason you want to clear that snow off of there is…the vehicle takes off and, even if you cleared the windshield, you still have four to five inches of snow on top of the vehicle. As the vehicle warms up, that’s going to loosen up and it’s going to turn into a projectile.”

Anticipate problems on the roadway when planning out your commute. Give yourself an ample amount of time to get to your destination safely and on time.

“Plan to leave early. Plan to slow down. Plan to have problems on the roadways,” Dean explained. “Drive alert, but also drive gently.”

A sneaky winter weather hazard is black ice. This thin coating of ice is the main reason drivers end up slipping and sliding on the roads during winter weather.

“I think, sometimes, drivers will get a sense that they’re entering some pavement that is icy just a fraction of a second or two before they hit it,” Dean said.

There are multiple tips you can follow to lower your chance of sliding on black ice and snow:

  • Do not use cruise control when driving on ice and snow.
  • Increase your following distance to five to six seconds. The extra space will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
  • Drive with care. Avoid hard braking, hard accelerating, and quick movements with the steering wheel.
  • Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads will make your wheels spin. Try to get a little speed going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill slowly.
  • Don’t stop when going up a hill.

If you do find your vehicle sliding on black ice, don’t always trust your first instinct.

“Your first impression may be, ‘let me slam the brakes on and try and go slow here,'” Dean said. “That can actually be the worst thing to do. As you’re coming across that ice, take your foot off the accelerator, coast across it until you get to a point where you’re back to pavement again. Then that’s a good time to brake or to make some of those maneuvers.”

If you feel the back end of your car sliding left or right, make a very gentle turn of the steering wheel in the same direction.

Drivers will have fewer issues with sliding on black ice and snow if they drive in plowed or cleared lanes.

Dean says traffic may slow down as other motorists move into the cleared lanes. However, you’re less likely to have issues with your vehicle sliding or going out of the lane and into a ditch.

“If you can’t drive in a cleared lane — because maybe the plows haven’t gotten through at that point — try and drive in the tire tracks in front of you. That will get you down closer to the pavement,” Dean explained. “It’s not a guarantee that you won’t slip and slide a little bit, but those cars have packed it down so you should get a little bit more traction on that than you would if you were just driving on a road that’s covered in snow.”

Also, respect and watch out for other motorists on the roadways.

“Remember, there are other vehicles out there as well,” Dean said. “Try and be as good to other drivers as you can, because they’ll be good back to you.

Just like you would when traveling on a sunny, ditch the distractions. Don’t look or pick up your phone while driving. If you’re using a GPS, make sure to program your GPS before leaving your parking spot.

Another important tip to follow when winter weather strikes is to stay home, if possible. Only go out if necessary.

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