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Winter driving is an inevitable challenge for most Canadian drivers. Whether you are driving through a busy snow-covered highway in Toronto or zipping through a country road in interior British Columbia, snow and ice affects the way we drive.
Although a majority Ontarians live in the southern most part of Canada, we still experience snow for six months in a row, usually from November until April. Luckily, most Ontarians are fortunate enough to have continuous snow clearing services round the clock. Step outside the Greater Toronto Area however and the frequency of snow clearing drops quite sharply. A snow plow might only visit a small town once a day, and may only clear major roadways. Sideroads, rural routes and community streets seldom see a snow truck.
In any case, drivers across Ontario should be careful and cautious regardless of where they live or their driving skill level.
Tips for Driving in the Snow and Ice
First and foremost, the best thing to do is to avoid the roads at all during snowy and icy conditions. Use the roads only if you have to. Although you may do your best to stay safe, your safety could be at the mercy of other drivers. If you absolutely have to drive, then here are some precautions you should take to stay safe this winter driving season.
Stay Cautious and in Control When It’s Slippery
Although we can’t control the weather, we can certainly control the way we drive. Drive with your full attention on the road. Be aware of the way you use your steer, accelerate and brake in snowy or icy road conditions. The way your car reacts to your actions totally depends on the size, weight, and drivetrain of your car. For braking, make sure your traction system doesn’t kick in during your turn. This means you are turning too fast. For turning, find an empty snow-covered road and practice the safest speed and angle at which you should be turning. Find a safe stretch of road where you are able to drive 60km/h and practice your braking distance. Thanks to modern Anti-lock Braking Systems, many vehicles are able to brake more effectively under sudden braking, without locking up.
Two Hands on the Wheel at All Times
It should go without saying, but always keep two hands on the wheel. Although this seems obvious, many drivers feel more comfortable keeping the other hand on either the armrest, the shifter, or even worse – a hot cup of coffee. If your car slides, there is no way you will be able to control the slip with just one hand. Even if you do manage to get both hands on the wheel, it might be too late. Keeping both hands on the wheel also helps you stay attentive, as you are less distracted by what your other hand is doing. With both hands on the wheel, you are able to focus on the road ahead.
Remove Ice and Snow off your Car Completely before Driving
This may seem obvious, yet most drivers fail to do this – either because they are in a rush or they’re not equipped to clear the snow off their car. Make sure every glass window in your car is completely clear of snow and ice, including your mirrors. Use the ice scraper to remove any ice. Many people don’t bother clearing the snow off their hood, roof, and bonnet, but this is a very important step. Visually, if your car is covered in snow, it has less of a chance of being seen by other cars. The snow also adds weight to your car, so you don’t want it to weigh you down if you get stuck in snow. Even worse, you don’t want the snow to blow off your car while driving and obstruct the visibility of drivers behind you. Although it might take just a few minutes, clearing your car of snow makes sure you can see and be seen by other drivers. To get the job done, always make sure you have a pair of winter gloves and a snow brush in the car with you at all times.
Winter Tires before the Winter
Although many people make the change to winter tires every season, some think they can get by on just all-season tires. This isn’t true. Winter tires are proven to improve stopping distance and traction in snow and icy conditions significantly better than all-seasons. Winter tires also increase driver confidence, allowing drivers to drive closer to posted speed limits and change lanes more confidently.
Equip your car with winter tires sometime around mid-November. Many people wait for the first snowfall in late November or early December before they go to the tire store – where they are met with a long line-up of people. By being proactive (instead of reactive) about changing your tires, you will be well-prepared for all kinds of weather.
Stay Safe this Winter!
By following these tips, you can stay safe on the roads this winter. In the event you do find yourself stranded or stuck, Abrams Towing can help recover your car, and tow it to a place of your choice. As Canada’s largest independent towing company, we perform hundreds of tows every month. With locations in Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor, Hamilton, Newmarket, Brampton, Oakville, Hamilton and Mississauga, Abrams can provide fast and reliable service – whether you need a tow, a battery boost, a fuel delivery, or a tire change this winter.
Our fleet of over 160 trucks offers a full range of state-of-the-art towing and recovery vehicles, including scores of light-duty tow trucks and flatbeds, tri-axle trucks, 50-ton heavy wreckers and hydraulic float trailers. We are ready for any size job – from motorcycles to motor homes and 18-wheel semis.