Meteorologists are warning of another winter storm approaching from the U.S. mid-west that will make driving in Southern Ontario treacherous on Wednesday. This will be the second major winter storm to hit the Greater Toronto Area this February.
It’s time to go over our winter driving check list to reduce our chances of being involved in serious traffic issues.
The storm will impact the GTA starting Tuesday evening and right into the rush hour of Wednesday morning. With temperatures hovering around the freezing point, the experts are not sure what combination of snow and rain each region will get. The most likely scenario will see heavy wet snow mixed with rain according to the Weather Network. Keep in mind, areas in higher elevations such as the Oak Ridges moraine area can see more snow. The GTA could see up to 20 or 25 cm of wet snow.
This combination will present truckers and motorists with several dangerous driving conditions.
With the temperature around 0 Celsius, chances of ice patches are likely. Motorists should expect ice to form on road surfaces. Compacted wet snow can easily transform into ice.
Heavy wet snow will make for dangerous lane changes when ridges form between lanes. Wet snow is harder to get through than light fluffy snow.
If we get a snow/rain mix, motorists should expect sections of road to flood as snow melts and rain accumulates. Residual snow can block storm drains causing major flooding of roadways. Standing water can pool in traveled lanes on highways causing hydroplaning or loss of control.
With these possibilities, we should all review our winter driving check list.
1. If you do not need to drive, stay off the roads to reduce your chances of being involved in collisions or becoming stuck. This also gives road crews better access to the streets for more efficient clearing of snow. It’s better to sit at home enjoying a hot coffee than waiting several hours in line at the collision reporting office or for a tow truck to pull you out of a ditch.
2. Before you leave, check road conditions on your route and for your destination. Look for alternate routes if your main route is blocked or deemed dangerous due to whiteouts or squalls. This information is available on The Weather Network, CP24, and many other station or computer Apps.
3. If you must go out, clean ALL the snow and ice off your vehicle. Make sure your windows, lights and wipers/washers are cleared of snow and ice.
4. Do not drive in winter boots or coats. This can lead to loss of control and fatigue.
5. Give yourself extra driving time by leaving early. What was a half hour drive in normal conditions can easily turn into a two or three hour drive in these storm conditions.
6. As soon as the roads become wet or snowy, SLOW DOWN. This is one of the most important items on our check list. This applies to drivers of all vehicles, big rigs, SUVs, pick-up trucks and All-Wheel Drive cars. Remember the saying, “Anyone can drive fast, smart drivers know when not to.” No one is impressed with a driver who drives too fast in poor conditions.
7. Drive with your full head lights system on. You need to be seen by others and your Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) will not do this for you.
8. Look where you want to go. You will drive where you are looking. If vehicles spin out near you, don’t look at them, look to where you want to go.
9. Be smooth will all your controls. Don’t tense up on the steering wheel as this will lead to jerky steering inputs. Smoother steering is safer steering.
10. If ridges of compacted snow build up between lanes, don’t change lanes unless absolutely necessary. Be patient and stay in your lane even if it is moving a little slower. Chances are it will catch up to the other lanes in time. If you must changes lanes, look farther up the road and see if you can spot an area where the ridging between lanes is minimal. Plan for your lane change there if possible. Keep two hands on the wheel in the 3 and 9 o’clock position and as smoothly as possible transfer across. Keep your vision high, always look to where you want to go and do not stare at the snow ridge in between the lanes.
11. Do not drive beside other vehicles and give yourself lots of room around your vehicle. If you drive beside another vehicle and they lose control, they may take you with them.
12. If you encounter flooded roads, find an alternate route. Flooded roads can hide severe erosion of the road or major pot holes deep enough to damage your vehicle. Watch for locally flooded roads that can cause hydroplaning. Slow down on roads that could be flooded. Keep your vision high to watch for vehicles in front of you splashing through deep puddles to give you early warning of these flooded areas.
13. Keep an eye on the local temperatures so you can watch for flash freezing of wet areas if the temperature drops below the freezing point.
14. Do not try to pass snow plows. This is very dangerous as plow drivers cannot see into their blind spots and cannot adjust their speed easily. They need to stay in formation for the most efficient clearing of snow. Be patient and enjoy the clearer road surfaces behind the plows.
15. Don’t forget to SLOW DOWN, snow or ice covered roads only give drivers about 10 per cent of the grip available on dry asphalt roads.
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