It is here, March Break and thousands of school kids are out playing in the wet snow and near the streets. The warmer weather is also bringing its share of motoring challenges.
Here is what motorists should be on the look out for:
1. Snow piles and children playing near them: Unfortunately, many municipalities including Toronto have not remove most of the snow on many of the residential streets and some busier streets. This means motorists need to watch for children playing around these snow mounds or dashing out from behind them. Visibility is reduced due to these piles of snow and we all need to slow down in residential areas.
2. Playgrounds and parks will have more activity than during the normal school year and motorists should be aware of playing children and slow down in these areas. Children will be out on bikes and skateboards now that the roads are becoming clearer.
3. Children, and in particular teens, are more likely to be engrossed in their iPhones or iPods and the distractions of these devices. When we see school kids and they are looking down at their electronic devices, assume they don’t know you are coming and be prepared.
4. Be aware of time change and its effect on your driving. It is a known fact that when we experience the daylight savings time change, vehicle collisions and crashes increase. It will take a few days for us to adjust to the time change so be on the alert for fatigue while driving.
5. Along with the residual snow and warmer weather come lots of melt water. Standing water can form in areas which normally drain. Watch for water pooling on the roads and slow down when encountering them. Avoid these puddles when possible as it is almost impossible to know how deep they are until you hit them. The puddle can mask how deep and damaging that hole may be.
6. Warmer moist air moving up from the south can cause heavy fog when it encounters snow covered ground. Be on the alert for fog forming in the early mornings and be sure your full headlight system is on. Slow down when entering foggy areas. This is the correct time to use your fog lights if your vehicle is equipped with them.
7. Temperatures dropping below the freezing point at night can turn roads icy. Listen for weather forecasts and know if your area is experiencing below freezing temperatures. Rain during the day can wash any residual salt off the roads allowing water to freeze up at night.
8. Dry roads can be deceiving if they are covered in sand from winter salting and sanding operations. Rural roads are more susceptible to this condition as sand is more widely used in these areas compared to cities. Sand can act as mini ball bearings and cause your tires to slide. Watch for sand covered roads when you turn off a major road onto a minor side street that may still be covered with sand.
Stay alert and watch for children and we can all have a great March Break.