Thursday, January 7, 2010

Winter driving does not have to be stressful anymore!

If you follow some basic guidelines and tips and keep your vehicle “winter-ready”, you can avoid stressful and dangerous situations.

Drive according to highway and weather conditions. If it is raining or snowing, you must drive according to these conditions. But be alert, in the winter, there is the danger of black ice as well. You might think that the roads are clear, but there could be black ice around any corner. With icy roads and poor traction, your car may go into a skid upon braking. Most skids result from driving too fast for road or traffic conditions. Once in a skid, steer in the direction of the skid.

Spacing must also be taken into consideration. This is where the “Two-Second Rule” comes in:

  • Pick a marker on the road ahead, such as a road sign or telephone pole

  • When the rear of the vehicle ahead passes the marker, start counting the seconds

  • When the front of your vehicle reaches the marker, stop counting. If you reach the marker before you can count to Two Seconds, you are following too closely.
NOTE: In severe winter conditions, double the Two-Second Rule

Vehicle preparation and tips:

Get a winter maintenance check up on your vehicle. Make sure your battery, belts, hoses, radiator, oil, lights, brakes, tires, exhaust system, heater, defroster, wipers and ignition system are all checked by a mechanic. Keep your fuel tank sufficiently full — at least half a tank is recommended. Make sure you have enough windshield washer fluid in the reservoir as well. It should be rated a minimum of -40 degrees Celsius and keep an extra jug in your vehicle.

Clear all snow and ice from all windows, lights and mirrors. Try to clear snow off of your hood and roof as well. This will help with blowing snow reducing your visibility as well as the visibility of those driving behind you.

Have your tires checked or replaced before winter begins. Winter tires are recommended above all-season tires. Remember to check tire air pressure frequently, as it decreases in cold weather.

The following items are recommended for the comfort and safety of you and your passengers should you become stranded:

  • Ice scraper/snowbrush

  • Shovel

  • Sand or other traction aid

  • Tow rope or chain

  • Booster cables

  • Road flares or warning lights

  • Gas line antifreeze

  • Flashlight and batteries

  • First aid kit

  • Fire extinguisher

  • Small tool kit

  • Extra clothing and footwear

  • Blanket

  • Non-perishable energy foods – such as granola bars, juice, water

  • Candle and matches
If you get stuck or stranded, the survival kit will come in very handy. Make sure that you don’t panic and stay to stay with your vehicle for safety and warmth. Draw attention to your vehicle. Use emergency flashers, flares or “Call Police” sign if needed.

Follow these guidelines and tips and help make everyone’s winter driving experience a safe one.


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