Driving in winter weather - snow, ice, wet and cold - creates a great challenge for vehicles and drivers. Keeping your vehicle in good technical repair reduces your overall chances for any mishap or disaster while driving - particularly in winter weather.
The safest strategy is to avoid driving in bad weather conditions. If you must drive, check weather and travel conditions before heading out. Give yourself extra time for travel and, if weather is bad, wait for conditions to improve. Always tell someone where you are going, the route you plan to take and when you expect to arrive. If you don't arrive on time, and people are worried about your safety, they will know where to search for you. If driving becomes too risky, turn back or look for a safe place to stop until it is safe to drive. Make sure you have enough fuel. Try to keep the fuel tank at least half-full.
If your vehicle is equipped for the weather and you're feeling confident, remember to take extra precautions on the road. Plan ahead and always check road and weather conditions before heading out. Be sure to leave more following distance, slow down, and give yourself more time to get where you're going. Speed limits are set for ideal conditions only.
Be alert, well rested and sober behind the wheel and always wear your seat belt. When worn correctly, seat belts save lives. Lap belts should be kept low and snug over the hips, while shoulder belts should always be worn across the chest. Learn more about seat belt safety. Children aged 12 and under should ride in the back seat, safely seated in a car seat or booster seat made for their size and age.
See and be seen. Remove all snow from your vehicle's hood, roof, windows and lights. Clear all windows of frost and fog. If visibility becomes poor, find a place to safely pull off the road as soon as you can. It's best to stop at a rest area or exit the roadway and take shelter in a building. If you can't exit, pull off the road as far as you can. Get out from the passenger side, to reduce the risk of being hit by other drivers. If visibility is poor, put on your emergency flashers.
Next time you get your car washed at Speedwash select the option to add Rain-X to your wash. Rain‑X® dramatically improves wet weather driving visibility. In tests conducted by a major university, better visibility improved driving response time up to a full second or more. At highway speeds, that’s almost four car lengths of extra stopping distance! Rain‑X helps improve visibility by repelling rain, sleet and snow.
Stay on main roads and drive carefully: Match your speed to the road and weather conditions. Avoid passing another vehicle when weather and road conditions are bad.
Wear warm clothes that do not restrict movement.
Be prepared to make a call. Take a fully charged cell phone with you. These are very useful in an emergency or if you need help. *911 is often a free call. But don't talk and drive. Let someone with you make the call, or pull over to a safe spot to place a call.
A well-stocked winter driving kit helps to handle any emergency. It should include:
·Properly fitting tire chains.
·Bag of sand or salt (or kitty litter).
·Warning devices such as flares or emergency lights.
·Fuel line de-icer (methanol, also called methyl alcohol or methyl hydrate).
·Extra windshield wiper fluid appropriate for sub-freezing temperatures.
·Roll of paper towels.
·Flashlight and a portable flashing light (and extra batteries).
·Extra clothing, including hat and wind-proof pants, and warm footwear.
·First aid kit.
·Snack bars or other "emergency" food and water.
·Matches and emergency candles - only use with a window opened to prevent build-up of carbon monoxide.
·"Call Police" or other help signs or brightly coloured banners.
Hydroplaning happens when the tires lose contact with the road surface and float on a film of water. If you find yourself hydroplaning, ease off the accelerator and keep steering in the direction you want to go. Avoid braking.
During the winter, temperatures can change quickly, which can cause unpredictable road conditions. Although the road may look the same, black ice can form unexpectedly and may not be visible.
Black ice is commonly found on roads with shaded areas, bridges, overpasses and intersections where car exhaust and packed snow freeze quickly.
If you drive over black ice and start to skid, ease off the accelerator, and look and steer smoothly in the direction you want to go. Don't brake—this will make the situation worse. You may need to repeat this manoeuvre several times until you regain control.
Adjust for conditions
Potholes can be another hazard during cold and wet weather. For all types of winter hazards, remember two key tips: reduce your speed and increase your following distance. The more time you have to react to any hazard the better.
Stay calm if you get trapped in a storm or snow bank
Don't do any heavy lifting, shoveling or pushing in the bitter cold - it can kill. Do make sure the tailpipe is not blocked by snow, to keep carbon monoxide from getting into your vehicle. Then, if your vehicle is not at risk of being hit by other drivers, stay inside so you have shelter. Going out into a storm puts you at risk of getting lost, or suffering from the cold.
You should also:
Keep a window on the side sheltered from the wind open a bit, to give you a good supply of fresh air.
Run your motor as little as possible.
Use a survival candle for heat if you have one, instead of the vehicle's heater.
Wear a hat, since you can lose up to 60 per cent of your body heat through your head.
Set out a warning light or flares.
Put on the dome light. (Overuse of headlights may run your battery down.)
Exercise your arms and legs often.
Watch for traffic or searchers.
For more winter driving tips go to https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/safety_haz/icesnow.html or visit http://www.icbc.com/road-safety/driving-tips/Pages/Winter-driving.aspx