Winter Driving – Will it Never End?Feb 13rd, 2018
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel winter will never end. Well, technically it doesn’t. It just takes a few months’ vacation and then it comes back with a vengeance. So, whether you still have to deal with winter driving now or later, you know it will be back. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few pointers to help keep you safe on the roads during any winter season.
The first thing to think about is maintenance. A properly maintained vehicle will help you stay under control in any weather situation. Ensure you book an appointment with your service centre before the weather turns cold. Once it snows, you know they’ll be busy, so beat the rush and book that early.
There are a few things you can do that a service technician doesn’t have to in order to keep your vehicle operating smoothly during the winter season. Topping off your washer fluid comes to mind. You’ll use up more washer fluid in winter with all the slush on the road. Keep an extra jug of washer fluid in the trunk in case you run out while away from home. After you get home or work, lift your wipers off the windshield when you know it will be snowing. This prevents them from sticking to the windshield and makes scraping the windshield easier. It can also reduce any damage to the wipers caused by your ice scraper.
Many drivers make the mistake of not checking the air pressure of each tire. The colder weather causes a quicker reduction with tire inflation, so check the tires weekly in cold weather. The proper measurement is on the inside of your door jam. An improperly inflated tire can affect your steering, braking and overall control, so stay on top of that too. Checking the spare tire monthly will also help. After all, why put on another flat when you get a flat?
Let’s talk winter driving. With slippery conditions we often hear the authorities advising drivers to drive according to the conditions. Someone once asked me what that really meant, so here goes. Since the roads are slippery it’s a good idea to keep extra space between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you. Typically on dry pavement you would need a minimum of 2 seconds of space as a following distance. If the conditions are slippery, double that space, including if you have winter tires on your vehicle.
Maintaining control of your vehicle can be difficult in poor weather. To help you stop safely, look well ahead and the moment you see brake lights, begin slowing down. Braking smoothly and gradually can get you stopped easily. If you have minimal space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you brakes hard, that will cause you to brake harder and skid sliding into that vehicle. By looking ahead and responding early, you’ll be ahead of the game.
Now it will be up to you to stay on top of these things during the winter season. It’s either that, or move to the Caribbean!
-Scott Marshall is Director of Training for Young Drivers of Canada and started in road safety in 1988. He was a judge on the first 3 seasons of Canada’s Worst Driver on Discovery Network. Scott started writing columns on driving for his community paper in 2005. Since then his columns have been printed in several publications including newspaper, magazines and various web-sites. You can visit his own blog at http://safedriving.wordpress.com.