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Road Trip Safety During Winter's Last Blast

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Spring break. Time to hit the road and escape the last weeks of winter. However, the winter 2014 is making traveling tough. Another major storm packed with ice and snow will make that road trip a challenge.

Before hitting the roads to reach those spring break destinations resolve to travel smart and review the AAA and Consumer Reports recommendations for winter car care and safe driving. Suggestions designed to make traveling the roads these last few weeks of winter both safer and more enjoyable.

Before you go:

* Make sure the gas tank and windshield washer fluid reservoir are full.

* Clear as much snow off of the car as you can, including the roof, headlamps and taillights. Scrape ice off of windows and side mirrors for maximum visibility.

* Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.

* Driving a long distances - find out what kind of weather to expect. Visit the National Weather Service website at to check the forecast. Also, check the road conditions posted by state patrols and transportation departments.

On the road:

* Slow down. Tires lose their grip in slippery conditions, so accelerating, stopping and turning all take longer on snow-covered roads. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.

* Increased your margin of safety by allowing longer distances for stopping.

* Accelerating slowly reduces wheel spin. If you're starting from a standstill on ice or slick snow, start in second gear if you have a manual transmission. Some automatic transmissions have a winter mode that automatically starts in a higher gear.

* Don't lock the wheels when braking. This can make the vehicle slide or skid. If your vehicle has an antilock braking system (ABS), depress the brake pedal firmly and hold it down. Do not pump the brakes. ABS usually send a vibration through the brake pedal - if you feel this, don't let up, it's normal.

*According to Consumer Reports, asking a vehicle to do two things at once - such as braking and turning, or accelerating and turning - can reduce your control. When taking a turn, slowly apply brakes while the vehicle is going straight. When it's at the right speed to take the turn, let up on the brakes and smoothly turn the steering wheel. After you're through the turn, slowly depress the accelerator to regain speed.

* Correct for a slide. If the rear of the vehicle begins to slide during a turn, gently let up on the accelerator and turn the steering wheel in the direction of the slide to straighten out. If the front end begins to slide, let up on the accelerator and turn the steering wheel in the direction you want to go.

* Pay extra attention to other drivers and don't drive distracted. Do not text and drive. Also check local rules on cell phone use while driving. Keep both hands onthe wheel - use a hands free device for cell phones if you have to use them.