LANHAM, Md. (WNEW) — Travel officials are warning drivers in the D.C. and Baltimore metro areas to prepare for a challenging commute Tuesday morning as snow and ice is expected.

AAA has these guidelines on how to prepare your vehicle for winter:

Prepare Your Vehicle for Use in Ice and Snow
Make sure your car has all weather or winter radial tires with excellent tread as well as windshield wipers in good condition with a full reservoir of washer fluid.

Prepare your Vehicle for the Very Cold Weather
With temps predicted to fall into the twenties overnight, motorists need to make sure they have adequate levels of antifreeze, a strong battery and de-icing solution that can help with windows and locks. Inadequate anti-freeze can cause engine damage that will run into the thousands of dollars to repair.

Emergency Road Kit
Winter weather driving kits should include: a blanket, ice scraper, flares/reflective triangles, flashlight with extra batteries, jumper cables, bag of abrasive material such as cat litter, shovel, cloth/paper towels and a fully charged cell phone. Check tires, wiper blades and car batteries before hitting the road.

De-Icing A Car
Keep an extra ice scraper in your home should your ice scraper become frozen in the vehicle overnight. De-icing fluid should also be kept indoors should your door locks become frozen. Removing snow and ice from your car before leaving home improves visibility and makes your car lighter and more responsive.

When To Drive
If conditions are icy, AAA Mid-Atlantic advises motorists to stay off the roads until road crews have treated the roads for ice and then not until conditions are favorable for the commute. Nearly one-quarter of weather related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement, resulting in more than 1,300 deaths and 116,800 people injured annually, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

Do Not Use Cruise Control and Avoid Tailgating
Normal following distances of three to four seconds for dry pavement should be increased to eight to 10 seconds when driving on icy surfaces. This extra time will allow for extra braking distance should a sudden stop become necessary. If driving on a four-lane highway, stay in the clearest lane; avoid changing lanes and driving over built-up snow. Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface. Not using cruise control will allow you to respond instantly when you lift your foot off the accelerator, AAA says.

Know When to Brake and When to Steer
Some driving situations require abrupt action to avoid a crash or collision and in winter conditions the decision to steer or brake can have very different outcomes. When travelling over 25 mph, AAA recommends steering over braking to avoid a collision in wintry conditions, as less distance is required to steer around an object than to brake to a stop. In slick conditions, sudden braking can lead to loss of vehicle control.

However, sometimes steering is not an option. Braking on slippery surfaces requires you to look further head and increased following and stopping distances. Plan stopping distances as early as possible and always look 20-30 seconds ahead of your vehicle to ensure you have time and space to stop safely. Shaded spots, bridges, overpasses and intersections are areas where ice is likely to form first and will be the most slippery. It is important to adjust your braking habits as road conditions change.

Stay in Control Through a Skid
Even careful drivers can experience skids. When a vehicle begins to skid, it’s important to not panic. Continue to look and steer in the direction the car needs to go. Avoid slamming on the brakes as this will further upset the vehicle’s balance and make it harder to control.

Drive Distraction Free
It is also important when driving in winter conditions to drive distraction-free and in the right frame of mind. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles your risk of being in a crash. AAA recommends if you are with a passenger, enlist the passenger’s help to carry out activities that would otherwise distract you from driving safely.

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