Winter Driving Safety Tips
Winter driving can present some unique risks; from deep cold, icy bridges and snow squalls there are a plethora of hazards for even the most seasoned drivers. This holiday season, as you take to the road to spread some yule tide cheer, remember to ready your vehicle for winter driving.
Get winter tires. Once the weather turns cold we highly recommend switching your tires over to winters. Most people believe winter tires improve your car’s performance in snow but the truth is that they improve your car’s performance in the cold. When temperatures drop below 7°C the rubber in your summer/all-season tires start to lose grip. The colder it gets the less effective they are at holding on to the roads surface. Winter tires are designed specifically for colder temperatures with special rubber that responds to the decrease in temperature forming a tighter grip with the surface of the road. Winter tires on all four wheels ensures the best grip and safest ride during the cold months.
Check your fluids. Make sure your windshield wiper fluid is able to handle colder temperatures and will not refreeze as you try and deice. Top up your windshield wiper fluid ahead of any long trips to avoid running out, particularly on snowy days.
Check the weather. Before you head out check the weather to make sure it is safe to do so. If the
forecast calls for white out conditions, heavy snow or hail, maybe visit another day.
Clear your car off. Keep a good snowbrush handy so you can clear off your windows, mirrors, hood and roof. Get as much snow of your car as possible before driving for maximum visibility and to avoid blowing snow all over other vehicles on the road.
Take your time. Leave yourself lots of extra time to get to your destination. Changes in weather/road conditions can slow things down and the more time you have the less tempted you are to rush.
Stay sober and stay focused. It can be easy to get carried away by the spirit of the season but driving is serious, sober business. If you’ve had too much to drink make arrangements for alternate transportation or to stay overnight. If you haven’t been drinking and are able to drive home stay focused on the road, your texts can wait until you get home.
Respect the plow. If you should find yourself stuck behind a snow plow never attempt to pass them on the right. Most plows have a wing that extends almost three metres on the right side. If you come across a staggered line of plows do not try and pass in between them. There may not be enough space to do so and deep snow ridges formed by the passing blade can interfere with your tires. Remember, the road in front of the plows hasn’t been cleared yet so may not be safe.
Be ready to slow down and move over. Whenever you see flashing lights whether they are from emergency services, a tow truck or construction vehicles slow down and move over when it is safe to do so. It’s the law.
Pack an Emergency Preparedness Kit. Despite all of your precautions things can still go wrong and you can find yourself stuck at the side of the road waiting for rescue. In that instant it is very important to have an Emergency Preparedness Kit. Your kit should contain items to keep you comfortable and warm, a first aid kit, water, food and basic vehicle supplies. You can build your own or order a kit from St. John Ambulance.
Go to Skid School. If the idea of winter driving has you breaking out into a cold sweat sign up for skid school. Learning what to do when the worst begins to happen can empower you and your family to react appropriately. Learn how to get out of trouble under the guidance of professionals in a safe environment.
Reposted from St. John Ambulance “First in First Aid” e-newsletter.
To subscribe or get more information visit their website at sja.ca