DRIVING TIPS

Public works officials and traffic experts offer the following tips for safe driving in snow:

Clean off all snow from all the vehicle's windows -- front, rear and side -- and from its taillights and headlights so you can see and be seen. Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and others around you, especially those in front.

Slow down well before you have to stop, especially when approaching an intersection. Come to a stop by carefully and lightly pumping your brakes. Avoid sudden braking.

If your vehicle begins to skid into a spin, steer in the direction of the skid. Drivers of automatic transmission vehicles should shift into neutral. Drivers of vehicles with manual transmissions should disengage the clutch. Avoid braking until the vehicle has straightened out.

MAINTENANCE TIPS

To keep your vehicle running during the frigid weather, AAA suggests that you:

Change oil if that has not been done in the last three months or 3,000 miles. Use 10W40 or 10W30 weight.

Make sure wipers are in good condition and that the window washer fluid level is full.

Make sure your battery and defroster are in good condition. Use a mixture of water and antifreeze that tests against freezing to level of about -12

Fahrenheit.

Keep the fuel tank at least half full to prevent fuel-line freeze-up. Also, add a can of gasoline treatment to the tank with every fill-up.

Carry a small shovel and bags of salt and sand to use in case the vehicle's wheels get stuck.

If the vehicle's door lock freezes, use an door lock antifreeze solution or aerosol.

COLD STARTS

With a fuel injected vehicle you should only turn the key, engaging the starter; with a carbureted vehicle, press the accelerator to the floor and release it quickly, repeat (this sets the fast idle position on the automatic choke and sends fuel to the carburetor), then engage the starter. If this fails to start the engine, press and hold the accelerator to the floor and try the starter again.

If the vehicle's starter won't activate and the battery is the suspected cause, turn on the lights for a minute and then off before trying to start again. This might energize the battery acid.

Don't set the parking brake after driving in heavy snow -- the brake could freeze and you might have to have the vehicle towed or thawed in a warm place.

SNOW EMERGENCY

During a snow emergency the following traffic and parking restrictions will be effective:

Streets are designated snow emergency routes to give snow plows easier navigation. These routes are identified with red and white traffic signs that say "Snow Emergency Route, No Parking."

Motorists are prohibited from driving on snow emergency routes unless they have snow tires on their vehicles or chains on the tires.

Vehicles parked or abandoned on a snow emergency route will be subject to towing and the owner a $50 fine. Motorists whose vehicles become stuck on a snow emergency route will be fined $25.

Motorists who abandon their vehicles in a way that obstructs traffic on any street also are subject to a $50 fine and having the vehicle towed.

Motorists whose vehicles become stuck or stalled or are involved in an accident are subject to a $25 fine if they do not have snow tires on the vehicle or chains on the tires.

Several areas throughout the city have been designated as satellite impoundment lots. Cars will be towed to these locations. Motorists can locate vehicles towed to one of these lots by calling 727-9200.

Other emergency information can be obtained by calling 832-4357 (8DC-HELP).

Under D.C. law, homeowners or renters are required to clear snow and ice from their sidewalks within eight hours of daylight after precipitation has stopped. The fine for failing to clear the sidewalk is $25. SOURCE: AAA Potomac.