Officially, it’s only been winter for a few weeks, but we’ve already seen video after video of cars slipping and sliding all over various roads across the country. After a nasty 100-vehicle pileup in Ontario this past weekend, we felt it a good time to share some of the best tips for winter driving, so you don’t end up like one of those poor drivers on Youtube.
Inflate your tires properly
Cold temperature is hard on tires, which is why making the switch to winter tires is so important. The cold temperature tends to sap the air pressure in tires. Less air pressure means less traction. Less traction means you’ll be driving on ice skates, so double check your tires before going out in the snow.
Use your headlights (even in daytime)
Winter is normally grey and gloomy, but if it’s snowing or raining, it gets even worse. You should avoid driving during such conditions if you can. If you have to go out, however, make sure to use your low beams. Just because it seems bright out enough to see, doesn’t mean other drivers and pedestrians can see you. Making sure your lights are on will help everyone be safer out there.
Don’t brake and steer at the same time
There’s another word for this. It’s called “drifting”, and since you’re not in a Fast and Furious movie, you shouldn’t be doing it. Instead, first brake and slow down, then steer your way through the turn. This will maximize your traction and keep you in better control of your car.
Pack an emergency kit
It pays to be prepared. If you’re a city driver then maybe you don’t need a huge amount of emergency supplies to ensure your safety, but for long trips in rural areas, getting stranded in -30 weather won't be fun. To that end, the Canadian Automobile Association has a list of recommended items to keep in your car for winter.
- an ice scraper and brush
- a flashlight
- a first aid kit
- a small shovel
- a bag of salt, sand or cat litter
- traction mats
- a tow chain
- a compass
- road maps
- cloth or roll of paper towels
- warning lights or road flares
- extra warm clothing and footwear
- water bottles and emergency food, like snack bars
- booster cables
- matches and an emergency "survival" candle (the kind that comes in a can)
- a fire extinguisher
- extra windshield washer fluid
- fuel line antifreeze
- a reflective vest
Be courteous, be careful
Safe driving starts with you. If you’re driving aggressively or carelessly, you’re going to get yourself — and possibly others — into trouble. Don’t play around with electronic devices while you’re behind the wheel, don’t get mad and start yelling just because someone cut you off. Be courteous, let drivers merge safely, and hopefully everyone will arrive at their destination without something like this happening.