Snow plows are standing by, plow operators have brushed up their skills and salt is stockpiled, awaiting the inevitable winter weather. But drivers need to be ready too. Winter driving can be a challenge, even for the most experienced motorists. Some extra preparation and caution can help you stay safe.
The Town of Bracebridge – Public Works Department, along with the Ontario Good Roads Association’s “SnowHow” Campaign, has provided some safe driving tips to remind and help drivers safely navigate roads this winter season:
Winterize Your Vehicle
- It’s important to keep vehicles in top running condition during the winter. Get your vehicle winterready with a maintenance check-up. Consider installing four (4) winter tires.
- Keep your fuel tank at least half full and carry an ice scraper, snow brush and washer fluid effective to -40oC.
- Keep an emergency survival kit in your vehicle such as a first aid kit, charged cell phone, nonperishable food, water, flashlight, blanket, warm clothes, jumper cables, shovel and traction mats or sand. Having essential supplies can provide comfort and safety if you should become stranded.
Before You Go
- Plan your destination ahead of time. Check local news sources for the weather forecast and road information before setting out. Visit Ontario511 or Twitter@511Ontario to check road conditions, road closures and track snow plows on provincial highways. Unless travel is absolutely necessary, delay driving if there are weather warnings or reports of poor road conditions. If roads are closed, do not travel at all.
- Clear ice and snow from your vehicles windows, mirrors, front and rear lights, licence plates and roof.
Slow Down and Stay in Control
- Slow down and drive according to weather conditions as speed limits are set for ideal conditions. Adjust your speed accordingly and allow yourself more travel time.
- Avoid sudden moves, starts or stops. Start slowly and use controlled, steady pressure when accelerating on slick or snowy roads. Brake gradually, giving yourself plenty of space between you and other vehicles. Remember, it takes almost twice as long for the average vehicle to stop in loose snow compared to dry road conditions. Hard braking, quick acceleration and sudden gear changes can cause you to skid.
- Approach intersections slowly when they are covered with ice or snow. Steer gently into turns and lane changes in slippery conditions to maintain control.
Focus and Stay Alert
- Focus on the road and do not drive distracted.
- Pay attention to the road surface. Asphalt in winter should look grey-white. If it looks black and shiny, it could be covered in ice. Remember that shaded areas, bridges and overpasses freeze earlier than other sections of road.
- Anticipate spray from large vehicles that may cause sudden loss of visibility. Be ready to activate your windshield washer and wipers.
- In poor visibility and whiteout conditions, keep your headlights on so drivers behind you can see your taillights. If weather conditions become dangerous, pull over safely and wait for the weather to improve.
Watch for Snow Plows
- Stay back from working snow plows and other winter maintenance vehicles with flashing blue lights. Plows are extra wide and can create clouds of snow, both which reduce visibility and increase risk of a collision. When approaching a plow from behind; slow down, stay back and be patient.
- Never pass a working snow plow. It is very dangerous for you and the plow operator. Sight lines and visibility can be significantly reduced by blowing snow and the ridge of snow that the plow creates. Trying to pass between or around a plow could result in a severe and even fatal collision