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3/31/2014 - Massive accidents calls for motorists to drive prepared


And, in the short amount of time that 2014 has been here, news headlines have been chock full of examples for why readiness is a key component of motor vehicle operation.

A good rule of thumb for motorists - and for life in general - is to always be prepared, as conditions can change almost at a moment's notice. And, in the short amount of time that 2014 has been here, news headlines have been chock full of examples for why readiness is a key component of motor vehicle operation.

Consider what happened on the Pennsylvania turnpike in February. Local news reports indicated at the time that approximately 100 vehicles were involved in a chain-reaction accident, causing dozens of auto insurance claims and injuries, some serious is enough to warrant medical treatment. Bill Capone, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, told CNN that at least 30 people were transported to area hospitals for treatment.

Or take what happened in Atlanta. Many drivers there were taken by surprise when a freak snowstorm affected the region, which resulted in scores of people having to abandon their cars, while others stayed with their vehicles overnight thanks to having sufficient provisions to deal with the cold temperatures.

Maintenance and equipment fundamental components of preparedness
It's with these incidents in mind that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has put together a list of tips and recommendations for commuters in the event they encounter inclement weather or accident scenarios that require them to hunker down.

There are two aspects of vehicle preparedness - maintaining one's vehicle to reduce the risk of an accident or breakdown and having the right equipment on hand to solve problems should they develop, FEMA noted.

In the maintenance realm, emergency management experts recommend ensuring that the vehicle's battery terminals are clean, that the brakes have plenty of brake fluid, the headlights and taillights are bright and the engine oil levels are all appropriately filled. Additionally, it's a good idea to keep the gas tank from falling below the halfway point, as this helps prevent the risk of freezing.

Given that one's automobile can often serve as a temporary sanctuary, it's crucial that it be outfitted with equipment and materials. FEMA advised always having a flashlight and batteries on hand, not to mention booster cables, an ice scraper, shovel and cat litter in the event traction is a problem. A first-aid kit should also be on board.

For more information on how to properly prepare, visit FEMA's website.


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