Winter weather often means cold temperatures, slick roads due to ice, and driving on snow-packed roads. Slowing down for the conditions is important, but there is much more to do before such conditions affect your driving. You have to be alert and prepared for anything! Watch those around you and ensure you leave plenty of distance between you and the car in front of you.
Don’t drive in Canada’s winter conditions unless it is essential. You may have to get to and from work. You may have to go to the store. Try to plan accordingly so you can get everything you need on one trip out. Cut down on trips during the colder times and the adverse weather conditions. When you must drive, follow these tips to ensure you reduce the risk of an accident or getting stuck!
Proper Vehicle Maintenance
Before winter weather emerges, properly maintain your vehicle. It is the ideal time to check your battery. It is recommended to have snow tires put on your vehicle. They offer additional traction and benefits over all-season tires for those winter driving conditions. An investment in these areas will reduce the risk of you getting stranded in a storm due to your vehicle not starting.
It reduces the risk of you sliding off the road or being involved in an accident. Make sure you always have a full tank of gas in the winter. If there is a situation where you get stuck on the road, you can turn your vehicle on periodically for heat. Place an emergency roadside kit in your vehicle. If you already have one, verify it is fully stocked before winter. This includes a blanket, flares, dry food, and water.
Check your snow scraper and brush to ensure they will work properly. Never drive off until your vehicle windows are completely clear. You can scrape them and use the defroster, but don’t just create a small opening. You need to see what is all around you when you drive, especially in adverse weather.
Keep dry socks and gloves in your vehicle. An extra jacket is a good idea too. Consider a tow cable and jumper cables. You or someone else you see on the road may benefit from those items being stored in your vehicle. A battery booster can be a wise investment as it will work faster to give your battery power again than standard jumper cables.
A small shovel and some ice melt can be ideal to add to your trunk. If you get stuck, you can use those two items to help you dig out. Kitty litter is a good idea too and it can give you some extra traction under your tires to get out if you are stuck somewhere due to slick conditions.
Take your Time
You shouldn’t drive the regular speed limit on winter road conditions. Take it slow and give yourself ample time to reach your destination. If you are late, so be it. Better than getting into an accident on the way. The appearance of roads can be misleading. For example, you may think the road is clear and speed up. However, it may be a sheet of black ice! Slow speeds will help you retain control of your vehicle.
Give yourself more time to slow down and stop. Keep a good distance between you and the vehicles in front of you. Should someone start to slide, you can stay back from that impending accident. If you are sliding, you want to have space to correct your vehicle without hitting any other vehicles. Slow down as much as you can before you turn, as the process of turning can cause you to slide when the roads have snow and/or ice on them.
No matter how great your tires are or how slow you go, there will be times when you slide and skid on the ice and snow. Don’t panic! Being prepared and understanding how to best handle the situation is important. Know your vehicle and how it handles in all conditions, especially in snow and ice.
When you skid, steer in that same direction. This is going to shift the weight of the vehicle and help you regain control in less time. Don’t slam on the brakes as that can cause you to slide more and lose control of the vehicle. Take your foot off the gas and gently touch the brakes a bit at a time. It can be scary when you slide or skid, but staying calm and focused will help you get the vehicle back on track.
Keep your Headlights on
Many newer vehicles are equipped with daytime running lights. During adverse weather, it is wise to drive with your headlights on. This will give you better visibility as you drive. It also ensures other drivers can see you easier. Visibility may be poor due to the storm, and the headlights can help everyone stay aware of other vehicles around them.
If you drive a lighter coloured vehicle, heavy fog can make it harder for other drivers to see you. Be aware of this fact and help offset the risks by keeping your headlights on. If your vehicle doesn’t have daytime lighting, you can manually turn them on. Make sure you remember to manually turn them off when you arrive at your destination. If you leave them on, this can drain your battery.
Avoid Pumping your Brakes
A common winter driving mistake is pumping the brakes. Since most vehicles today offer Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS), you don’t have to worry about your brakes locking. The ABS is designed to reduce sliding in adverse weather. When you pump your brakes, the system can’t perform as it was intended to. Apply pressure gently to the brakes when you need them and let the ABS work for you. Slower speeds during winter weather ensure you can slow down or stop easier.
Trust your Abilities
A nervous driver behind the wheel is a safety concern for all on the road. When you follow these tips, your winter driving in Canada will be safer. Take your time to learn how your vehicle operates on snow and ice. Turn off the radio and slow down. Pay attention to the road conditions and other drivers around you. Reduce your speed to a level safe for the conditions and that you are comfortable driving. Don’t get intimidated if other drivers pass you.
Focus on breathing in and out slowly if you are anxious about driving in winter weather. Try to avoid driving in such conditions unless absolutely necessary. If you know you will have to drive in such conditions, be prepared. Consider driving in such conditions on roads less travelled than your regular route when the weather is severe.