As we prepare for old man winter to arrive, here are some excellent winter driving tips provided by John Mahier, director at Bridgetone Canadian Winter Driver Training.
Before You Drive
1. Have good quality winter tires on your car and make sure inflation is correct. You change your footwear for the winter; do the same for your car.
2. Adjust your headrests to the proper height in case of a collision.
3. Make sure you have cold weather rated washer fluid topped up.
4. Have new winter rated wipers on the car.
5. Clear all snow off the car. Snow on the hood and front will blow onto the windshield. Snow on the roof will blow onto the rear window; you need to know when a car is getting too close. Blowing snow from your car can blind the driver behind and he may not see you stop.
6. Dress for driving, big heavy boots make for clumsy feel on the pedals.
7. Keep the car cooler rather than hot to minimize windshield foggy, open a window slightly to clear fogging.
8. Get all loose objects out of the car. When you stop suddenly, it will all fly forward.
9. Keep the gas tank filled; drive using the top half of the gas gauge.
10. Carry some emergency equipment in the trunk on long trips, including flashlight, flares, booster cables, shovel, towrope, snacks and a blanket.
On the Road
1. Slow down! You don’t know how much grip you have, so find out by doing a little braking before you have to—this helps determine how much traction is available.
2. Look well ahead of the car, look where you want the car to go, and look down the road to anticipate where you will need to slow down or turn.
3. Have good situational awareness. Check mirrors every 8 to 10 seconds, and if someone is tailgating you, slow down and let them go.
4. Be cautious at intersections. Intersections get icy, even when the road isn’t. Try not to drive in the ruts—traction is better along the edges of the road.
5. Allow extra braking distance, and apply the brakes before a corner—don’t try to brake and turn at the same time. Plan to stop before you have to. Common braking areas get icy faster than roads where cars keep moving. Don’t rely on ABS to get you stopped—extra room is always best. Leave at least one car length extra distance. When stopped at a light, you should be able to see the wheels of the car in front of you touching the ground.
6. See and be seen. Keep all headlights on and don’t rely on the auto setting to turn them on.
7. Be in your own space. Move away from other cars whenever possible. Your best defense is distance. If you are emergency braking, put on the four way flashers to alert cars behind you.
8. No distractions. No cell phone calls, even on hands-free. Listen to your tires working; listen to traffic around you. Your ears are part of your defense.