Whether you are new to southern Alberta or you have been driving around the province for years, at this time of year everyone can use a reminder of safe winter driving practices.
Before the snow falls and the icy temperatures set in for weeks on end, this is a time to prepare your vehicle for winter driving. If you haven’t already done so, use this opportunity to change your wiper blades, fill your washer fluid tank with a de-icing formula and ensure that your anti-freeze is up to the task. Make sure that your battery isn’t so old that it will easily go flat in the cold. Also, make sure that all of your lights are bright and in good working order.
Make Sure You Can Go. . .And Stop
Making sure your tires and brakes are up to the challenges of winter is also a prudent step, and could be the difference between getting around safely and ending up having to file an insurance claim for causing an accident. If your tires are worn, now is the time to get new ones that can handle ice and snow. Consider snow tires and learn how to the traction control in your car works.
All of the tire grip in the world on ice and snow won’t avail you if your brake pads are worn out. If your brakes squeal, or grab or pulse inappropriately, or require too much pedal effort for your stopping results, it is time for new brakes.
Winter Driving Tips
Once you are reasonably sure your vehicle is ready for wintry roads, it is time to turn attention to yourself. It is simply the case that once snow falls, or ice develops, that you have to drive far more defensively than you would in perfect conditions.
First, don’t drive in bad weather unless it is absolutely critical to do so. Check the weather forecasts before heading out and delay your trip by a few hours until the worst of a snowstorm has passed. If you must head out, make sure you let some one know your route and your expected arrival time.
As it is driven upon, snow easily develops compressed ice ruts on both paved and dirt roads, while it also conceals pot holes, abrupt shoulders, and other road imperfections. On a slick stretch of road, anticipate what you must do based on the conditions, and time of day, and if your surroundings look treacherous at all, slow down. Care must be taken to avoid sudden steering inputs, passing, heavy braking, or lead footed acceleration that could cause a loss of traction and directional control. To maintain maximum control on a weather-compromised road, you should also regard your cruise control feature as off limits during inclement weather.
When travelling through heavy snowfall, remember to only use your low beam headlights to keep blinding reflectivity to a minimum.
If You Get Stuck. . . .
Foremost, stay with your vehicle unless you absolutely cannot. It is the best shelter available in most cases. Be sure to stock your vehicle with some emergency supplies, including water and a blanket or sleeping bag for staying warm. If you have to run the heat in your car for an extended time, be sure that the tailpipe has not become blocked by drifting snow and that you only run the car for a few minutes at a time to conserve your fuel.
Make Sure Your Auto Insurance Is Up To Date