BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Western New York has seen its very first blanket of snow this season, and AAA is encouraging drivers to take it slow as we all begin to brush up on our winter driving skills.

“We saw an uptick in calls, certainly with that first cold blast, a lot of battery calls. That was a primary breakdown, saw a lot of slowdowns on the roadways as everybody did. We did see some vehicle incidents, a couple of crashes here and there, and some breakdowns on the road unfortunately, as well.” said Dan Fisher, emergency road service dispatch manager with AAA of Western New York and Central New York.

AAA recommends getting the habit of giving yourself extra time for your commutes — give yourself more space in between other vehicles on the road and always look at least five seconds down the road to give your car enough time to stop. Also, if you do hit a patch of ice, they say to look and steer into the direction you want to go.

“The big thing is — do things gradually,” Michael Formanowicz, manager of driver training with AAA, says. “I always like to say to people, imagine you’re inside your home and it’s been snowing, you go out and you can see the sidewalk is covered, you can see your driveway is covered. When you step out the door and start walking down, you’re going to go nice and slow, because you don’t know how much traction you have. Well, think of your car the same way.”

As the flakes begin to fall here in western New York, AAA reminds drivers to make sure their cars are fully equipped with emergency supplies.

“It’s definitely a good reminder, and don’t wait. I mean, preparation is so important when it comes to vehicle maintenance,” Fisher said.

Some items to keep in the backseat include the following:

  • winter weather emergency kit
  • blanket
  • basic snacks
  • phone charger
  • extra water
  • shovel
  • snowbrush

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Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.