Winter driving tips to keep you safe on the road

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PHOENIX -- Arizonans are slated to experience a mix of wet and winter weather this week, with rainfall forecasted in the Valley and snow in northern Arizona. In fact, the National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning in northern Arizona from 8 a.m. Monday through noon Tuesday.

Adverse weather conditions can create dangerous road conditions that lead to motor vehicle crashes, according to AAA. In fact, last year the auto club responded to more than 2,500 calls in Arizona for roadside service over a single “winter weather” weekend.

As a result, the auto club would like to remind motorists of the following wet and winter weather driving tips:

• Slow down! One of the best ways motorists can reduce their risk of crashing and getting stuck in wet and/or winter weather is to simply slow down and take their time.

• Keep a safe distance of at least five seconds behind other vehicles.

• Do not engage your vehicle’s cruise control. Using cruise control on wet roads or during heavy rain can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

• Be aware of potentially icy areas such as shady spots and bridges.

• Do not over-pack your vehicle. It is more difficult to stop a heavy vehicle in wet weather.

• Let someone know your route and when you will arrive at your destination.

• Check road conditions before leaving home. To check road conditions motorists can call ADOT’s road condition hotline at 511 or visit their website at www.az511.com.

• Pack an emergency car kit that includes at least: flashlight, flares, jumper cables, a little tool kit, cell phone and duct tape for short-term repair of a broken hose (but only to the next service station).

• Carry extra food, water, clothes and blankets in your vehicle.

In addition, motorists who are traveling to the high country in the coming days will want to be sure their vehicle is prepared to handle colder temperatures and road conditions. At a minimum, AAA recommends the following:

• Tires. Check the air pressure and that your spare is properly inflated and in good condition. When the temperature drops, so does tire pressure, so check periodically throughout your trip.

• Head/brake lights. Bad weather creates poor visibility making it difficult to see other drivers, and difficult for other drivers to see you.

• Battery. A vehicle’s battery can lose 35 percent of their power when temperatures fall to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. If your battery is weak or older than three years, it is best to have it replaced.

• Radiator fluid. If you are traveling to a colder climate, it is imperative that you check your protection level. Radiator fluid should be capable of withstanding temperatures of at least 35 degrees below zero.

• Belts and hoses. Replace any belts or hoses that show any signs of cracking.

• Oil and filter. Changing your oil and filter every 3,000 miles is the single most critical and least expensive maintenance service you can perform.

• Wiper blades. Check to ensure wiper blades work properly. You do not want to be caught in a rain or snowstorm when you find out they no longer function properly.

• Window washer solvent. Top off windshield washer fluid with a non-freezing solvent if you will be encountering harsh temperatures.