For many Canadians, the white stuff came early this year.
Now, with a first major snowfall under our belt, it’s a good idea to review some winter driving tips and the emergency supplies you should have in your car.
All motorists should know the safety rules for dealing with winter road emergencies, but keeping your vehicle in good technical repair reduces your overall chances for any mishap. To prepare your vehicle for the season have a garage give it a winter checkup if you haven’t already done so.
The check-up will ensure things like your electrical system, lights, brakes, exhaust system, heating and cooling systems, wipers as well as your tires are in good working order.
Regular or all-season tires may be adequate in some areas, but may not be suitable for driving in the snowbelt regions of southern Ontario and throughout the north. If you live and drive in these areas, consider using winter tires. They provide better traction, braking and handling during frost, snow, slush, and particularly under icy conditions.
And, did you know many insurance companies often apply a discount to your policy for having them? Talk to your broker to find out more.
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Winter driving tips
- Slow down and move over for emergency vehicles.
- Never pass a snow plow on the right-hand side.
- Don’t use overdrive or cruise control on snow or ice.
- Practice emergency braking to understand how your vehicle will react.
- Check the weather forecast ahead of time. Make sure someone knows of your travel plans.
- Leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle ahead. In other words, don’t tailgate and anticipate!
- Brake slowly to reduce speed before turns. Once you’ve rounded the corner then accelerate again.
- If you have an ABS braking system, don’t pump your brakes. Apply steady pressure and let the system work.
- Stay home during a storm if you can. If you have to venture out, stay on main roads.
- Keep a phone charger in your car.
- Ensure you have at least half a tank of fuel at all times. Not only will it get you to your destination, it will prevent your gas line from freezing
- Ensure you are using freeze-resistant wiper fluid and keep an extra jug in the vehicle
- Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed garage.
RELATED READING: For more winter driving tips check out the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.
Pack a winter safety kit
If you get stuck, having a proper emergency kit, could save your life. It should consist of an ice scraper, snow brush, shovel, booster cables, snacks, first aid kit, canned candle, matches, flashlight, extra batteries, blankets and a tool kit. If you prefer to buy it, many online sources or local retailers sell winter emergency kits.
Other good items to include:
- Bag of sand or salt (or kitty litter).
- Tow rope.
- Traction mats.
- Warning devices such as flares or emergency lights.
- Fuel line de-icer
- Extra clothing, including hat and wind-proof pants, and warm footwear.
- Matches and emergency candles - only use with a window opened to prevent build-up of carbon monoxide.
- Road maps.
- "Call Police" or other help signs or brightly coloured banners.
It’s also always advisable to have some sort of roadside assistance program. In Ontario, if you encounter trouble or witness an emergency, you can call *677 or 1-800-310-1122 which will connect you to the nearest OPP communications centre. You can also call 511 in that province to get the latest highway conditions. Keep these numbers in your car or phone and stay safe!
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