Helpful Winter Driving Safety Tips
Even though it happens every year, many people need reminders. It’s almost as if we try to block it out of our minds. What am I talking about? Winter driving of course.
Although it begins every year around this time, we often see drivers make typical mistakes on the road. So with that in mind, here are a few early reminders to help keep everyone safe on the roads this winter.
Since there’s always a chance your vehicle may break down during the winter, it’s a good idea to have a roadside assistance membership. This roadside assistance can help if the vehicle’s battery dies and you need a boost or perhaps if you need a tow from a ditch or snowbank. It can be pretty difficult to get your vehicle unstuck when you’re alone. Roadside assistance can also help in with any other vehicle mishap. Consider this membership an investment in your driving sanity.
Many drivers keep a road safety kit in the vehicle each winter, but that’s usually for the vehicle. Items in that kit may include a scraper with brush, small shovel, extra washer fluid, etc. As another idea, have a personal winter driving survival kit, which is something that can personally help you in case you get stranded. Some items that you may want to place into your personal kit could be extra gloves and socks, toilet paper, a book, non-perishable food items, a fresh bottle of water, candle with a lighter, hand warmers, and perhaps a facecloth. These items will help you remain comfortable until assistance arrives.
Each winter we notice vehicles traveling along the road which still have a lot of snow all over the vehicle. Clear it all off before driving away. This would include all windows and mirrors, headlights and tail lights. If you know there has beeen a snowfall overnight, get up earlier than normal so you have enough time to clear all the snow off from your entire vehicle. As you drive along those slushy roads, your headlights and tail lights get pretty grimy. If you stop in at the gas station, you can use the squeegee they provide to clean those lights. Now drivers can see you from behind and you can see better ahead of you. Having your headlights clean will also make it easier to see at night along dark roads.
I’ve often heard how drivers attempt to stop in winter conditions by pumping the brakes. Although that technique may stop your vehicle, it takes a lot longer to do that. Each time you lift your foot from the brake pedal, you extend your stopping distance. Instead, brake early and gradually increase the brake pressure until you come to a safe stop. In an emergency, threshold braking works well if your vehicle doesn’t have anti-lock brakes (ABS).
These are just a few reminders to help keep you safe while driving this winter season. Your job is to remember these techniques year after year. Will you?
Scott Marshall is Director of Training for Young Drivers of Canada and started in road safety in 1988. He was a judge during the first three seasons of Canada’s Worst Driver on Discovery Network. Scott started writing columns on driving for his community paper in 2005. Since then his columns have been printed in several publications including newspaper, magazines, and various websites. You can visit Scott’s blog at safedriving.wordpress.com.