CHARLOTTE — With much of the Carolinas covered in rainfall Tuesday and a major cold wave that moved in last night, AAA Carolinas warned motorists of the potential for ice on the roads on their morning commutes.
“For some of us, we may experience our first ice of the season driving into work,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. “Leave for work a little early and drive with caution to avoid any trouble with unforeseen ice.”
As the cold weather settles in for the season, it is imperative that motorists have enough tread on their tires to stop in adverse situations.
“Tires are what keep a car connected to the road, so any change in road condition due to rain, ice, sleet or snow can affect this connection and lead to losing control of the vehicle,” said Philander Harvey, vice president of AAA Carolinas Car Care. “Adequate tread depth is necessary for a tire to maintain traction, along with other factors. If you’re unsure of your tire’s ability to tackle the winter weather, stop by your local AAA Carolinas Car Care facility and we can test them and offer recommendations to ensure your safety.”
What to do if you encounter ice while driving
Be aware of and on the lookout for black ice. Pavement with black ice will be a little darker and duller than the rest of the road surface. It commonly forms on highly shaded areas, infrequently traveled roads and on bridges and overpasses.
Use extreme caution on bridges and overpasses. Bridges and overpasses freeze first and melt last. Although the roadway leading up to a bridge may appear to be fine, use caution because the bridge itself could be a sheet of ice.
Slow down. Drive, turn and brake slowly. Adjust your speed to the road conditions and leave yourself ample room to stop. Give yourself three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
Be alert of traffic ahead. Slow down at the sight of brake lights, fishtailing cars, sideways cars or emergency flashers ahead.
Never use cruise control.
Avoid unnecessarily changing lanes. It increases your chances of hitting a patch of ice between lanes that could cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
Be sure to have a winter weather kit in your car. The kit should include an ice scraper, a blanket, flashlight with extra batteries, jumper cables, bag of kitty litter, reflective triangles/flares, shovel, cloth/paper towels and a fully charged cellphone.
Tips for braking on black ice
Avoid braking on ice. If you’re approaching a patch of ice, brake during your approach. Control the skid. Applying pressure to your brakes while on ice will throw your car into a skid.
Control the skid. In the event that your car is skidding, ease off the accelerator or brake and steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go.
If your car has an anti-lock braking system (ABS): Do not remove your foot from the brake. When you put on the brakes hard enough to make the wheels lock momentarily, you will typically feel the brake pedal vibrate and pulsate back against your foot. This is normal and the system is working as it is designed to. Do not pump the pedal or remove your foot from the brake.
If your car does not have an anti-lock braking system: The best way to stop is threshold braking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal to the “threshold” of locking your brakes. Remember, you must keep your heel on the floor. If your heel leaves the floor, your brakes could lock.
Watch for icy surfaces on bridges and intersections, even when the rest of the road seems to be in good condition.
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.
Don’t use cruise control in precipitation and freezing temperatures.