The snow and icy road conditions have arrived, meaning now is a good time to take the appropriate precautions.
Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), along with the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), have tips on how drivers can handle the road conditions that winter brings.
OPP remind motorists of the importance of staying alert, well rested and sober if they’re going to be driving. Weather conditions can change rapidly, and that places extra demands on vehicles and driving skills. Divers should keep their focus on the road and on other vehicles, and make an effort to anticipate other drivers’ actions. Remember also that seat belts save lives. Children younger than 12 should ride in the back seat, safely seated in a car seat or booster seat made for their size and age.
Police also stress the need to slow down and pay attention, always driving according to weather conditions. Remember to keep a safe distance between the vehicle in front.
Travelling at a rate of speed higher than reasonable or losing control of a car given the road condition and becoming involved in a collision could result in possible charges. Loss of control can be traced directly back to driver error, resulting in a Highway Traffic Act charge. Remember to reduce speed to match road conditions.
Regardless of driving experience, the way a car will move on snow or ice always has an element of unpredictability. Watch for black ice, which can be located in shaded areas, bridges and overpasses. Don’t tailgate, because stopping takes much longer on snowy and icy roads than on dry pavement.
Know how to handle your vehicle in all weather conditions. Practise safety skills. By reading the owner’s manual, one will learn about the vehicle’s braking system and tire traction.
If you are not confident to drive during the winter, consider taking a winter driving course.
Don’t use cruise control, as it forfeits control by allowing the vehicle to accelerate on its own.
Police also urge motorists to stay tuned to weather updates and check road conditions before travelling. During the winter, always allow extra time for travel to get to a destination. Plan the route a head of time. Let someone know of your destination and expected time of arrival. Don’t take chances if the weather is bad. If driving becomes too risky, turn back or look for a safe place to stop until it is safe to drive.
IBC also stressed the need to take extra precautions while driving.
“Canadian winters can be dangerous for drivers if they’re not prepared for rapidly changing road conditions,” said Ralph Palumbo, vice-president of Ontario IBC. “Taking the time to prepare for winter driving conditions and making safe decisions could save lives.”
IBC’s tips for safe winter driving include driving according to the road conditions; heeding the warnings from Environment Canada’s local weather offices; tuning up the car, checking the vehicle’s battery, belts, hoses, radiator, coolant/antifreeze, oil, lights, brakes, exhaust system, heater/defroster, ignition system and tires; checking the wipers regularly and carrying an extra jug of windshield-washer fluid in the vehicle; inspecting the tires and check the tire pressure at least once a month in cold weather; installing four winter tires, because they allow the car to stop up to 40 per cent sooner than all-season tires and significantly improve the vehicle’s handling in winter weather; keeping the gas tank topped up; always carrying an emergency kit, with extra antifreeze, a flashlight, batteries, blankets, a candle, matches, hazard markers, a snow shovel, an ice scraper and brush, the phone number of a local towing company, sand, booster cables and food; telling someone where you are going and when you expect to arrive; bringing a map or GPS and plan an alternative route; and carrying a charged cell phone.
–Photo By Bill Rea