Winter Driving Tips for a Safer Trip - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers
  • Monday, 13 February 2017

Winter Driving Tips for a Safer Trip

#AskCoreySax

Driving during winter in freezing temperatures can make for a scary task, but driving while the roads are covered in ice or snow can be especially daunting. However, there are many preparations and precautions drivers can take before they hit the road and while they are out and about.

Can your trip be delayed?

Obviously, the best course of action during a winter storm would be to reroute your trip or postpone it completely until the storm has cleared if that is an option. If neither of those is a possibility, then at minimum be prepared when you leave the house.

Be sure the maintenance on your vehicle is in tip-top shape. Don’t wait until winter to have your battery, belts, hoses, oil, lights, exhaust, heater, windshield wipers, and brakes checked. Installing winter tires isn’t a bad option either if winter travel is a must for you. They provide more stability and better traction than traditional, all weather tires. Keep your fuel tank at least half full. It adds extra weight to your car and can be helpful in the event of an emergency.

A vital winter survival kit

Prepare a winter survival driving kit. The kit should include a scraper, shovel, sand or kitty litter, tow rope, jumper cables, warning lights, antifreeze, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, flashlight and batteries, matches, tools such as a wrench, pliers, and screwdrivers, extra clothing, a blanket, and food such as granola bars or trail mix, and bottled water or juice. These items can go a long way in keeping you safe if you get stranded on the road.

Before you leave don’t forget to check the road conditions by calling 511 on your cell phone, or looking online at ontario.ca/511 where you can find specific details about the road conditions and closures on your planned route. You can also visit trackmyplow.com to find out where plows are or have been on provincial highways. Be sure to clear your windows, mirrors, and hoods of snow and ice before leaving.

Be cautious when on the road

Once you’re on the road, there are plenty of precautions to take to keep you safe. Take your time and don’t go faster than you feel your car can safely operate. Don’t make sudden turns or stops. Allow extra time to brake to a slow stop and turn slowly, but do not pump your brakes. Don’t drive too closely to the people in front of you and pay close attention to your surroundings. Drive with your lights on and don’t use your cruise control. And if the worst does happen and you go into a skid, don’t follow your instincts. Turn into the same direction as the skid and accelerate slightly. This action can often help you regain control of your vehicle and stop the skidding.

When it comes to the snow plows out on the road, they’re there to help you but stay away from them. Keep your distance from the plows and other winter maintenance vehicles and never pass them. Snow being pushed and blown from the plow can decrease visibility making it unsafe to pass. Most importantly, be patient. Know that they are there to help make the roads safer for you, but it is a slow, time-consuming process. Snow plows clear in sections and more than likely you won’t be stuck behind them for more than 20 minutes. So take your time and be prepared when traveling in winter weather and with the above suggestions your trip will likely be much less hazardous.

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