Winter is coming. Are you prepared when you hit the road?
? “It’s the most wonderful time of the year……” ? Or something like that! As the snow starts to fly around the country, we thought it would be a good idea to remind everyone about tips for safe driving this winter. These winter driving tips are for all drivers. Whether you are driving a semi, or a Prius, we can all benefit by practising these behaviours.
Tip 1: Pack accordingly for winter
When planning your trip make sure that you have warm clothes in case an accident leaves you stranded on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck. Some essentials are:
- jumper cables
- small tool kit with screwdrivers, pliers, wrench, pocketknife.
- a flashlight
- space or warm blanket
- first aid kit
- phone charger
- ice scraper
- candles and matches (light and heat)
- Water bottle
- Protein bars
- Duct tape
- Paper towel
Tip 2: Check your vehicle
Make sure that your windshield washer fluid is topped up. There is nothing worse than smeary windshield that leaves you peering through to try and see the road through the debris.
Do a check that all your lights are working. It is very dangerous to be driving in poor conditions with out your lights. Even in daylight, if snow is blowing, sometimes your lights are the only thing visible to other drivers.
Ensure that your tires are in good condition. Put on your winter tires- especially in Quebec where this is the law! In fact for 2019 Quebec has moved up their winter tire deadline to December 1st.
If you are travelling to areas that require tire chains, make sure that you have them packed to avoid down time. To find out where tire chains are required check out this blog Where Do You Need Tire Chains? It contains a complete listing for both the United States and Canada.
Tip 3: Be vigilant while driving
There are a few things you can keep an eye out for when driving
- Look for a reflection on the road- this may indicate black ice
- Give yourself lots of braking room. Remember it takes longer to brake in snow and ice!
- Easy on the gas pedal- fast acceleration can cause spin outs and loss of control. Same can happen during sudden gear changes.
- Steer into curves gently to avoid slipping, or jackknifing.
- And never use cruise control when conditions are less than optimal.
Bonus Tip: Braking distance for a tractor trailer on ice is 10x longer than it is on dry road. Give yourself a LOT of room! If you are driving beside a tractor trailer don’t cut in front of them as they will no longer have the necessary room to stop.
Tip 4: Clean and defrost your vehicle prior to driving.
Despite what some people may think- a credit card size hole scrapped into your windshield prior to leaving your driveway is not enough. Without clearing ALL of your windows, you leave too many blind spots for safe driving. No one wants to accidentally hit a pedestrian crossing the road simply because someone was too busy or too cold to do a proper job of clearing their windows.
Check for snow build up on the top of your vehicle. This goes for both personal vehicles and tractor trailers! Chunks of snow falling off your vehicle is a hazard for others on the road. No one wants to be the cause of an accident.
Tip 5: Plan your trip
Look at the forecast before hitting the road. While this doesn’t mean that you can’t drive into a freak snowstorm at least you can be prepared for anything that is known to be brewing in the skies.
Make sure that you know of places along your route that you could pull over to wait out a storm. Make note of gas station locations and be sure to keep your tank topped up. You never know when you might have to wait out the worst of a storm at the side of the road.
Tip 6: Be respectful of tow trucks, plows and other maintenance vehicles
Remember to slow down when you see tow truck drivers at the side of the road assisting other drivers. In many provinces you are required to slow down to a minimum of 60km/hr otherwise you risk a hefty tickets and licence demerits. If possible (and safe to do so), move into the other lane to give the tow truck driver safe room to work.
I know its tough to follow behind a plow or sanding truck going half the speed of the rest of traffic, but remember they are out there trying to make roads safer for you and everyone else. Remember: The road that is being plowed ahead of you will be way better for driving on, than the unplowed road that you’d be passing the plow for.
Bonus Tip: Remember that a plow will pull over at the end of its route allowing traffic to pass safely at that time.
You might ask, “Why is not safe to pass a snowplow?” Well you must keep in mind that a plow creates a mini blizzard around itself when removing snow. This obscures the vision for vehicles following behind it, missing oncoming vehicles.
If you’ve ever wondered how it works, here is a great infographic from the MTO showing how roads are maintained during the winter.
Click here to get your Winter Vehicle Maintenance List. We have made taking care of your vehicle a no-brainer by putting together a comprehensive list of things your vehicle needs to stay road worthy this winter.
Here’s to getting home safe this winter season. Happy winter driving everyone!
Do you have any tips that we should add to this post? Be sure to leave a comment if we’ve missed something!
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