Common sense tips for winter driving

As I watch the early snow out my window the following message came in at the right time.
The Traffic Management Unit of the Greater Sudbury Police wishes to remind the general public of the dangers associated with winter driving in light of the recent snowfall and icy roads around the City of Greater Sudbury, and offer the following common sense tips when you are traveling in your motor vehicle this coming winter.

  1. Even with good coolant, snow tires, traction control, all-wheel drive, keep in mind that driving in snow, sleet, and ice is very treacherous. Even if you maintain control of your car, not everyone else will. So, don’t ever get lulled into a false sense of security. Do everything slowly and gently. Remember, in the snow, the tires are always just barely grabbing the road. Accelerate slowly and gently, turn slowly and gently, and brake slowly and gently. To do this, you have to anticipate turns and stops. That means what? Going slowly and leaving plenty of distance between you and other cars. Rapid movements lead to skids and loss of control.
  2. As snow or ice does arrive, take some extra time to make sure your car is clean and your visibility is good.
  3. Clear off the entire car, not just a little peephole in the windshield. First of all, you need just as much, if not more, visibility in poor conditions, because you have to keep your eye peeled for every other person on the road. Make sure every glass surface is clear and transparent by using a snowbrush and/or ice scraper. Your side view mirrors and all lights should be brushed and cleared as well.

Now, if you haven’t been smart enough to do so already, clean the snow off the rest of the car. Why? Because the rest of the snow will either;

  1. Slide off the roof and cover your windshield as you’re slowing down; or
  2. Fly off onto someone else’s windshield and cause him or her to smash into you.

Every car has different handling characteristics. You should know what your car can and cannot do in the snow. You should know if it has antilock brakes and traction control, how they work, and how they help.

Normal Winter Driving Tips

  1. Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
  2. Carbon monoxide quickly builds up in enclosed areas and your nose cannot sense it.
  3. Always wear your seat belt.  Everyone in the vehicle must wear seat belts or restraints and you must not have more people then belts.  Don’t forget kids don’t go in seat belts after all — but in weight- and height-appropriate restraints and not in the front seat, etc.  (For details Transport Canada Road Safety)
  4. Start out slowly in the lowest gear recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.
  5. Watch for hazardous road conditions. Take extra care when driving on icy roads and watch out for hard to see patches of ice (black ice). Especially in shady spots bridges and near intersections where exhaust fumes cause icy patches.
  6. Keep a safe distance of at least five seconds behind other vehicles and trucks that are plowing the road.
  7. When there is snow on the ground and the sun is very bright – wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and prevent excessive eye fatigue.

Avoid driving when you are tired.

  1. Always maintain a safe following distance between your car and the vehicle in front. It takes a greater distance to stop on ice and snow.
  2. Don’t pass a snowplow or spreader unless it is absolutely necessary. Treat these as you would emergency response vehicles.
  3. Don’t park along the street. Snowplow drivers can’t fully clear a road if cars are in their way

Drive economically – use a light foot on the accelerator pedal.