It’s official, winter is in full force and that means we must adjust our driving habits and be fully prepared. After all, almost 30% of all traffic accidents in Canada happen on snow or ice covered roads.
To start, make sure you have four winter tires installed on your vehicle, in many cases this will even qualify you for a discount on your car insurance. It’s also important to ensure that you have windshield washer fluid that is suitable for cold temperatures, preferably rated to at least -40°C.
You should also make sure you have a winter safety kit in your car, you never know when you might get stranded on the road in the middle of a snow storm or -35°C temperatures. The bare minimums your kit should include are: a warm blanket, a flashlight, non-perishable food items, water, jumper cables, sand (or kitty litter), and a shovel. You could also keep extra items like duct tape, flares, batteries, first aid kit, headlamp, and hand warmers. It is also important to make sure your car has at least half a tank of gas at all times.
When it comes to driving, make sure you are paying attention to the conditions and driving for them. Slow down when the roads are slick and visibility is poor, make sure your headlights are on, but do not use your high beams. Ensure that you are giving the cars around you enough space, do not tailgate! Do your best to not stop suddenly, slow down and break gradually so others around you can react and so your car has better traction.
Be patient, and absolutely do not pass snowplows. Let them do their job; they will pull over when it is safe to do so. Until then stay well back, at least 10 car lengths back, because salt, rocks and other debris can come flying from the plow and hit your windshield if you get too close behind them.
It is also very important to make sure you completely clear your vehicle of all snow. That doesn’t mean just the windshield, or just the back window. The entire car, roof and all, needs to be cleared. Not only does this ensure your own visibility, but it also ensures the visibility of those around you. If you do not clear all the snow from your vehicle, when you are driving the snow can blow off of yours and impede the visibility of the drivers around you. If the snow or ice from your vehicle were to blow off and hit another car and cause an accident you could be found liable for that accident.
Another possibility with snow on your roof is it melting slightly and then sliding onto your windshield when you slow down or brake. This will block your visibility and can come as a complete shock.
All in all, driving in the winter requires additional care and considerations. Make sure your car is winter ready and leave extra time for travel.
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