Dealers Voice: Winter has come. Keep these Driving Tips in Mind
Many winter collisions and hazardous situations can be prevented with better preparation and safer driving
During a recent snowstorm in central Ontario, a motorist lost control of his car at night, which landed him in a ditch at the side of the highway.
Fortunately, the driver was uninjured, but the car was stranded and it took over an hour for help to arrive.
In this case, the driver had the foresight to pack some candles before he left, and the heat from the candles enabled him to stay warm until help arrived.
Many winter collisions and hazardous situations can be prevented with better preparation and safer driving.
It’s no surprise that the insurance industry reports a 49 per cent increase in claims arising from vehicle collisions from December to January.
• Pack the following items in your trunk: snow brush, candles, matches, blanket, first-aid kit, booster cables, non-perishable food items, road flare, flashlight and windshield wiper fluid.
• Install a good pair of wiper blades to keep the snow, slush and ice off your windshield. Old, worn blades can cause visibility issues.
• Remove snow and ice from your mirrors, lights, windows and roof before heading out on the road. Falling snow and ice can seriously impair driver visibility.
• Carry a mobile phone in case you need to call for help.
• Defrost your windows before starting to drive. Take a few minutes to ensure that you can see clearly out of all windows.
• Keep a full tank of gas. You do not want to run out of gas during the winter.
• Brush off your LED headlights and tail lights. Unlike older halogen lights, LED lights do not get hot enough to melt snow and ice.
• Remove snow, ice or mud from the exhaust pipe. A blocked exhaust pipe could result in carbon monoxide leaking into the car’s interior when the engine is running.
• Drive with caution. This applies to all municipal roads and highways, especially school zones. During a snowstorm, give yourself extra time for making turns and changing lanes. Leave extra space between vehicles and give the right of way to plows.
• Maintain situational awareness. Drivers should always be aware of their surroundings and practise defensive driving — more so in winter. Be mindful of road conditions, oncoming vehicles, pedestrians, road signs, school buses, police cruisers and emergency vehicles. In Georgina recently, during a light snowfall, two joggers wearing safety vests narrowly escaped being hit by a driver who was not paying attention to his surroundings.
• Control skidding. If you find yourself in a skid situation, turn into the skid and then accelerate. This will help to transfer the weight of the vehicle from the front to the rear, which will help you regain control.
• Do not use cruise control on icy or slippery roads.
• Consider taking a winter driving course (carcontrolschool.com). Drivers of all ages and experience can benefit from this training.
• Check weather conditions, especially before a long trip. Waiting out a storm could be safer than the risk of driving in it.
• Visit the website: 511on.ca. It provides real-time traffic and transit information for Ontario.
• Avoid distractions. This means no texting and driving without the aid of a hands-free device. Even fiddling with a stereo system or a GPS screen are forms of distracted driving.
Most of these tips are common sense. Still, it is wise to take extra precautions when driving in winter.
I urge motorists to study the information in this column, keep it handy and pass it along to friends, family members, neighbours and colleagues.
This column represents the views and values of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to tada.ca. Cliff Lafreniere is president of the TADA and is president of Pinewood Park Motors (Ford) in Kirkland Lake. For information about automotive trends and careers, visit carsandjobs.com.