Safe Winter driving is a balance of preventing problems BEFORE they occur and how your respond when they DO.
Step 1: Get Your Car Ready
Ideally, you should have began the process of getting your car ready for Winter at the beginning of Fall. Running a little late on this step? Read our post about how to get your car ready here.To sum it up, it is a good idea to take your vehicle for a complete check-up. This includes: battery, ignition system, lights, brakes, tire pressure, exhaust system, heating and cooling system, and windshield wipers.
Step 2: ALWAYS check the weather
You never want to get stuck in a weather situation that you’re not ready for. Before leaving home always check the forecast to anticipate what you can expect.
Blizzards are by far the worst of winter weather conditions. During and after a heavy snow fall always be cautious of slippery roads and black ice (occuring between +4°C and -4°C), which can be found on the road even long after the sun comes out. It doesn’t end there, winds, which cause blizzard conditions, are definitely not your friend either. For those of us living on the island we know all too well that winds can cause poor visibility and drifting.
Step 3: Prepare for Driving
- Avoid driving in bad weather conditions as much as possible. If you HAVE to drive following Step 2 (above) and giving yourself extra time to get to your destination is best. When conditions are nasty wait for them to improve – nothing is urgent enough to put your life in danger
- Tell someone where you’re going
- Have enough fuel (half a tank or more)
- Always be alert and well rested before hitting the road
- Remove all snow from your car and lights in order to see and be seen by others
- Stay on main roads
- Make sure your cell phone is with you and fully charged (If you drive in areas that don’t have service, consider investing in a CB radio)
- Keep these items inside your vehicle: road maps, ice scraper, flashlight, first-aid kit, and warm blanket
- Keep these items in your trunk: shovel, sand/litter, traction mats, tow chain, paper towels, compass, extra shoes/clothes, road flares, food, booster cables, catches, candles, fire extinguisher, windshield wash fluid, antifreeze, and reflective vest
Step 4: Drive defensively and avoid accidents
- Skidding always seems to occur when you least expect it and no two vehicles respond alike to winter road conditions. This is why it is crucial to learn how to handle your vehicle in all types of weather. The best way to prevent skidding, although sometimes it is unavoidable, is to drive appropriately and slow down. If you do skid avoid forceful braking or sudden jerking motions of the wheel
- With this in mind, understand that any vehicle around you could lose control at any time as well. In bad weather, put more distance between you and the vehicle in front of you in order to avoid collisions to the best of your ability
Step 5: Take a deep breath and remain calm
When in doubt, take it slow. If, by chance, you do get trapped in the middle of a storm or crash into a snow bank here are some DOS and DON’TS.
- Attempt to do any sort of heavy lifting or shovelling in the cold
- Move from your vehicle (as long as its not at risk of being hit by another car), this give you shelter and prevents you from the risk of getting lost or freezing to death
- Keep your motor running (run it as little as possible)
- Fall asleep
- Make sure your tailpipe isn’t blocked in order to prevent carbon monoxide from seeping into your vehicle
- Crack a window on the side facing away from the wind in order to supply yourself with fresh air
- Wear a hat
- set out a warning light or flares (see survival kit)
- Get your legs and arms moving
Recently, a video of a bike being side swiped by a vehicle turning right at an intersection in Saanich was shared online. While the cyclist walked away with only minor injuries, it could have been a lot worse. The driver, who drove off seemingly oblivious to what had just occurred was NOT practising correct motorist/cyclist road safety. This got us thinking, maybe it’s time to refresh peoples memories of how to correctly share the road with cyclists. Watch the video below and decide from our tips what the motorist did wrong and what they should have done instead.
narrow escape for a cyclist at Cedar Hill Rd and North Dairy Rd/Finlayson Rd when he got sideswiped.
Posted by Amit Arya on Monday, October 30, 2017
According to ICBC, nearly four out of every five cyclists are injured at intersections in B.C. Drivers can help reduce the chances of a crash by safely sharing the road and always keeping the following tips in mind:
Keep a safe distance
It is recommended that drivers remain at least three seconds behind cyclists on the road. Because cyclists don’t have brake lights to warn you when they are slowing down or stopping so it is best to keep as much separation as possible, especially as the roads become more click. When making a pass, leaving one metre between you and the bike to reduce the risk of side-swiping or running a cyclist off the road.
Your door is dangerous
“Dooring” is very common and the consequences can be large. Including the chances of seriously injuring a cyclist, you can also receive a dooring violation and fine. It is both the driver and the passenger’s responsibility to shoulder check for bikers before opening doors.
Distraction is your worst enemy
Always be aware of cyclists on the road and make eye contact whenever possible. This will help you both be able to anticipate each other’s next move while remaining safe. Knowing cyclists hand sings helps to anticipate their next move and also when it is safe to pass.
Shoulder Check, shoulder check, shoulder check.
Shoulder checking when turning right and watching for oncoming cyclists when turning left is crucial. Always be cautious when entering a roadway or getting in and out of a parking spot.
Respect bike lanes.
Bike lanes are reserved for cyclists. Do not drive in bike lanes and always yield to cyclists when crossing bike lanes to access driveways or parking spots.
I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news here, but I am sad to inform everyone that summer is quickly coming to an end. That’s right, as the days grow shorter and kids prepare to go back to school, fall is just around the corner. The change of season is the perfect time to put on your favourite sweater, drink a pumpkin spice latte, and show your car a little love with some maintenance.
Following these tips can help assure safe travels for you and everyone else on the road.
Check your brakes and tires
Whether you like it or not, living on the Island = rain. Rain causes the roads to get slick due to oil from a hot summer; this means the need to be able to stop on the drop of a dime is essential for avoiding accidents. When wear bars start to show, it’s time to give your tires a change. Checking the tire pressure is also a good idea since tire pressure drops when temperatures become cooler.
Check your lights
Having functional lights is crucial. For this reason, it is a good idea to give your car a walk around to triple check that all your lights are operational. Headlights, taillights, parking lights, brake lights, and emergency flashers all need to be in working order. If they’re not, it’s time to get them replaced.
Replace wiper blades
While you may have forgotten about Vancouver Island’s rainy days, I assure you they are coming. If your wiper blades are cracked or worn they won’t be able to do their job and you won’t be able to see (yikes). Checking the blade’s rubber and operating them to see that they clear the glass is a good idea.
Get your battery checked
Your battery needs to be in tip-top shape if you want to be able to start your car on cooler mornings. Having it inspected by a certified technician who can replace if it need be is a smart idea before hitting the roads this fall.
Pop open the hood
Be sure to take a look under your hood for any signs of wear and tear. Things such as leaks, cracks, loose clamps, or fraying on the underside of drive belts need to be noted and replaced. The sound that your engine is making is also a good indication. Sputtering or other engine problems mean it’s time to take it to a trained mechanic for a thorough inspection.
Assure that your heater/defroster are in proper working condition
Operating a vehicle with a malfunctioning heater isn’t safe (or warm). Fogged-up windows = potential accidents. Also, check the front and rear window defrosters to ensure proper working condition.
Check oil/air filters
Check the oil in your car to ensure it isn’t dirty. If it is, or you are at your recommended oil change time, make sure to take it in. Checking the air filter is also a must to make sure that it is clean enough to allow for proper operation.
Check all fluid levels
Note the car’s level of washer fluid, transmission, brake, and power steering fluids and your cooling system. It is recommended that you check your coolant level in the overflow tank when the engine is cold. If the level turns out to be too low, adding a 50/50 solution of water and coolant will allow proper antifreeze function. It may also be necessary to refill the cooling system.