Driving in bad weather conditions

Here are some quick driving tips that can greatly enhance your winter driving skills and help you remain accident-free in any type of bad weather conditions.

Vehicle Inspection

Make sure your car is ready for winter by doing a full inspection in the fall. See here for 10 tips to winterize your car and yourself.

Stay Updated

Stay updated of weather conditions by listening to local weather reports prior to leaving the house. It is also important to know what different weather warnings mean:

  • Heavy Snow - expect 10 cm (12 hours) or 15 cm (24 hours) of snow.
  • Black ice possibility - in areas where the temperature remains between +4 degrees C and -4 degrees C black ice can form on the road.
  • Blizzards - Expect 6 hours or more of falling, blowing, drifting snow with high winds (possibly greater than 40 km per hour, poor visibility and very low temperatures
  • Cold Snaps - rapid drops in temperature
  • High Winds - Can eventually result in blizzards, high wind chill temperatures and poor visibility

Be Prepared

  • Avoid driving in bad weather conditions. If you must drive check all travel conditions and/or wait to set out once the weather has improved. Also make sure someone else is aware of where you're going, your travel route and expected time of arrival. If you're already driving and weather conditions deteriorate pull over (ensure you have adequate fuel) and allow the weather to improve
  • Be well rested, alert, sober and always wear a seatbelt
  • Ensure you are visible to other drivers and have complete visibility of other drivers as well by removing all snow from your car, make sure all windows are clear of frost and your lights are in complete working order
  • Stay on main roads because they are safer and more likely to be able to attract help if you're in an accident/your vehicle gets stuck
  • Dress warmly for the weather - you never know when you may have to exit the vehicle or have to remain in your vehicle for longer than expected
  • Always keep your cell phone with you and make sure if completely charged
  • Pack a vehicle emergency kit. Here is what you should keep in your Your vehicle emergency kit

Avoid collisions

  • Make sure you read your vehicle owners manual in order to understand how your vehicles braking system works. A number of newer vehicles come equipped with additional safety features such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and knowing how to use such features can help you have better control of your vehicle
  • In the event you feel your losing control of your vehicle avoid making sudden jerking movements to the steering wheel or braking too hard which could throw the car into a skid. Should your car go into a skid and your brakes lock the tires try to reduce the gear on your vehicle (for example in an automatic vehicle reduce 2 or 1 depending on your current speed). The reduction in speed forced on by the reduced gears will succeed in slowing down your vehicle without locking the tires and help you come out of a skid

Speed limit

Maintain a reasonable speed limit. Drive at speeds that are recommended for your roads and weather conditions and maintain extra distance between cars. Also, make sure you watch the road carefully for black ice etc and reduce your speed accordingly.

Stay calm

If you do get trapped by a storm or are in an accident/skid:

  • Do not exit your vehicle to do any heavy shoveling.
  • Make sure your exhaust pipe is clear to prevent carbon monoxide build-up
  • Have an emergency plan- you should always know what do in the event you do get stranded
  • Never leave your vehicle unless you know where you are/how far help is
  • Light the flares from your emergency kit and place them on both sides of your cars to attract help
  • If your okay for gas then run the heater and engine for 10 minutes every hour to keep warm
  • Put on your extra clothes and cover yourself with your emergency blanket
  • Leave a window slightly open to prevent snow and ice from sealing the car completely
  • Keep yourself hydrated
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