First snowfall of the season expected to impact Friday morning commute

(CBS 58) -- It happens every year; the first snowfall of the season seems to have a reset button effect on drivers throughout southeastern Wisconsin.  We see it all, crashes, vehicles in ditches and spinouts as drivers try and get used to the new conditions out on the roadways.

When it comes to driving in these adverse conditions you need to plan ahead.  Here are some helpful tips from AAA on how you can be better equipped before hitting the roads.

  • Check your tires. Keep a firm grip on snowy and icy roads by making sure your tires have adequate tread depth and are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure.
  • Inspect your windshield wipers. Visibility is critical when driving in adverse conditions. Replace worn wiper blades and fill washer fluid reservoir with winter formula solvent.
  • Test your lights. Activate you lights – including brake lights - and replace any bulbs that have burned out. This will help ensure that you can see and be seen.
  • Fill your fuel tank. Prevent fuel-line freeze-up by keeping your gas tank at least half-full.
  • Park your car in the garage. If you do not have a garage, put a tarp over the hood or park away from prevailing winds. To keep doors from freezing shut, place a plastic trash bag between the door and the frame.
  • Pack an emergency kit. Be sure to include a phone charger, jumper cables, warm gear for all potential passengers (boots, hats, gloves, blankets), flares, flashlight with extra batteries, food and water for all potential passengers, general first aid kit, non-clumping kitty litter, ice scraper, snow brush, shovel, and windshield washer fluid.
  • When you see flashers, move over a lane if possible and slow down as you’re passing emergency vehicles. This law applies to any vehicle – including tow trucks – that displays flashing lights and is stationary on the side of the road.
  • 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 and turn signals are clean.
  • To increase your visibility, drive with your low-beam headlights illuminated at all times.
  • 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.
  • 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.

No matter how much you plan ahead you have no control over the other drivers that you share the roads with. The only thing that you have control over is how you are prepared and your confidence level when driving in snowy conditions.

Be sure to follow @ABrovelli and watch the CBS 58 Morning News for the latest on your morning commute and driving conditions throughout southeastern WI.     

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