Winter Driving Tips to Keep You Safe on Alberta Roads
Winter has arrived bringing with it the challenges of bad weather. Before winter strikes full force, make sure you and your car are ready. During the busyness of the holiday travel season, take your time to follow these tips to ensure you get to your destination and back home safely.
- Before driving, make sure snow and ice are cleared off of your car. If snow has fallen when your car was parked, take the time to thoroughly brush it off the vehicle including the roof, windows, side view mirrors, headlights, taillights, and license plates. Driving through a small cleared spot on your windshield reduces visibility and is dangerous.
- Slow down when conditions aren’t ideal. Follow the posted speed limit but use common sense. If a road sign posts the speed limit of 100 km/h, that doesn’t mean you should drive at that speed if the road is icy or snow covered. Check road conditions often and choose the route you’ll take ahead of time. Stay off of roads during major storms unless travel is absolutely necessary. When driving behind a snow plow, maintain a safe distance behind. Snow plow drivers do not always have the best visibility and can create clouds of snow that reduce your visibility.
- Allow for longer braking distances. Start braking sooner than what is normal in dry weather. On a wet or slick surface, allow yourself at least three times the normal following distance to stop. Use gentle pressure on the brake pedal and avoid locking the wheels when braking. Locked wheels can make a vehicle slide or skid. If you have a vehicle without an antilock braking system, apply gentle pressure repeatedly to avoid locked wheels. If your vehicle starts to skid, steer in the direction you want to go. When the wheels regain their grip, brake firmly and smoothly. Avoid sudden actions such as quickly turning the steering wheel, acceleration or shifting a manual transmission.
- If you don’t already have them, get winter tires. They provide better traction and can shorten your braking distance by as much as 25 percent. All season tires are not the same as winter tires as they tend to lose their grip when the temperature drops below 7 C. If have four or all wheel drive, don’t develop a false sense of security. 4WD and AWD systems only provide traction when accelerating. They provide no advantage when braking or cornering. Do not use cruise control on slippery roads.
- Keep your vehicle’s fuel tank more than half full. The extra volume can help reduce moisture problems in your fuel system and a topped up gas tank is an asset if you become stranded. Carry an emergency road kit in your vehicle’s trunk or cargo space. Carry supplies such as: a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, blanket, road map and compass, extra clothing and footwear, rags or paper towels, sand or road salt, a flashlight with extra batteries, emergency food such as granola bars or nuts, an ice scraper and snowbrush, a cell phone, a candle in a deep tin and waterproof matches, a shovel and booster cables.