Driving safely on slippery roads under winter weather conditions can be challenging, and requires all your skill and attention. The key to arriving at your destination safely is to be alert, be cautious and take it slowly. Follows are tips from the Halton Regional Police Service to help improve your driving safety during the winter months:
To keep your grip, start off slow and easy. Do not spin your wheels. When you are pulling out, use a light foot on the accelerator, easing forward gently. Vehicles stuck at an intersection, on a hill or at an entrance can create delays, major traffic tie-ups and even accidents.
Depending on the size of your vehicle, it takes three to 12 times the distance to stop on ice and snow-covered roads than on dry roads. In general, the heavier the vehicle, the greater the distance required to come to a safe stop. As such, leave a greater following distance between you and the vehicle in front. The more severe the conditions, the wider the gap you should leave.
Braking on ice is never easy but as the temperature rises, ice becomes even more slippery. For example, your braking distance can double with a temperature variation from zero to -18 degrees Celsius. Be as aware of road conditions during thaws as well as freezes.
The action of tires spinning and sliding on snow and ice polishes the road surface, making it even more slippery especially at intersections, on curves and on hills.
All vehicles, when on a curved section of highway, are more sensitive to overpowering, over braking, and over steering. Any sudden steering application is hazardous. Sight distance on a curve is often reduced, hiding hazards around the bend. Proceed with caution.
Compensate for this in your driving. Slow down early when you approach a slippery intersection, curve or hill. Adjust to the existing road, weather and traffic conditions. Remember that four-wheel drive vehicles face the same challenges from winter road conditions as other vehicles, and the same rules of road safety apply.
Generally in winter, asphalt is a grey-white colour. If you see a black shiny surface ahead, slow down and brake smoothly and gently and proceed with caution as there may be a thin layer of ice on the road known as black ice.
Although the winter weather may tempt you to do the minimum to clean your car, it is more important than ever to have full visibility of the road and surrounding traffic.
Before starting your trip, clean off the entire windshield and all of the windows. Wipe off the headlights, tail lights and turn signals so that others may see you. Use your windshield wipers often and ensure that you are using winter washer fluid.
Be extra diligent about shoulder checks, looking ahead, and checking your rear-view mirror so that when a traffic situation may require slowing down or turning, you can do so gradually at a safe rate of speed. Plan lane changes well in advance, and give yourself enough time to make manoeuvers safely and other vehicles enough time to provide a clear path. Use your signal light, and make the change smoothly, especially if there is snow and ice pack built up between lanes.
Stepping up your defensive driving skills during the winter months, and ensuring your vehicle is properly maintained at all times, will help ensure you arrive safely at your destination.