With winter now on the horizon once again, many motorists are looking for ways to ensure their daily commutes or holiday trips to visit family and friends are as safe as possible.
Avoiding roadways altogether is not always an option, so motorists who simply must venture out onto the roadways this winter can employ the following strategies to ensure they safely arrive at their destinations.
• Consider winter tires. Many drivers are unsure if they need winter tires. All-season tires may suffice for those drivers who live in regions where heavy snowfall is uncommon. But winter tires are designed to perform when the temperatures are especially cold and in driving conditions featuring ice, slush and snow. Some drivers mistakenly believe that vehicle features such as anti-lock braking systems and traction control make their tires more capable of handling wintry roads. But such features do not provide more traction. Only better tires will improve traction.
• Drive slowly. Many drivers mistakenly believe they only need to drive slow when snow is falling. But winter weather can make roadways unsafe even in areas that have not witnessed a single snowflake fall from the sky. Wet winter roads can quickly turn into icy winter roads, and no ABS system or traction control device can prevent a car that’s traveling too fast from skidding out. Poor visibility is another reason to drive slowly in winter. Peripheral vision is often compromised when driving in winter, as dirt, salt or sand buildup on windshields and side windows and mirrors can make it hard for motorists to fully view their surroundings.
• Don’t drive too closely to other motorists. In addition to driving slowly, motorists also should leave extra room between their vehicles and the vehicles in front of them. In such conditions, for every 16 kilometres per hour drive a minimum of four car lengths behind the motorist in front of you. So if you are driving 80 kilometres per hour, be sure to leave 20 car lengths between you and the car ahead of you.
• Maintain your vehicle. A vehicle should be maintained regardless of the season, but it’s especially important that your vehicle perform at its peak in winter. A vehicle’s battery and windshield wipers are a winter driver’s best friend, but only if they are operating at optimal capacity. Being stranded on a roadside in winter is more dangerous than in any other time of year. That’s because driver visibility is more compromised in winter, and it can be hard for motorists to see or avoid vehicles on the side of the road. Maintain proper fluid levels and make sure your battery is charged and the gas tank is full before making any winter trips.Metro