Safety Tips for Winter Driving
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
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