Motorists need to take extra precautions to ensure they can adjust during sudden shifts in weather. We recently sat down with Dave Moreno, Associate Director of Emergency Road Service at CAA Niagara, to share tips that will help drivers stay safe on the road this winter.
In addition to putting on winter tires, what else can I do to prepare my car for winter?
When it comes to winter driving, it’s very important to have a certified technician look at your vehicle’s battery, brakes, heater/defroster and wipers. These are all vital components to your winter drive.
You should also run your vehicle each day. Leaving your car sitting in the cold for more than 24 hours can increase the chances of battery failure. If the temperature in your area drops below -15°C, consider using a block heater. This will reduce engine stress and make it easier for your car to start.
What’s the best way to navigate roadways in the winter?
Although helpful in the warmer months, avoid cruise control at all costs when driving in poor conditions. You need to stay attentive and be ready to brake. The best way to avoid skidding or sliding is by driving at speeds that are safe for the weather and road conditions. Remember, speed limits are posted for ideal weather, which means in the winter, you should always drive below the speed limit.
Keeping that in mind, driving should plan well for longer drives, such as to see family over the holidays. It's important to give yourself plenty of extra travel time. Be sure to check the weather conditions at your destination, because even if you’re just travelling 30 minutes away, the weather conditions can drastically change.
How can I tackle the poor visibility that comes with winter driving?
A rule of winter driving is to see and be seen.
This means making sure all your interior and exterior lights are working and that your headlights are aimed correctly. Remember to always put on your full headlight system. Without your full headlight system, your taillights are in darkness. Clear your car of any snow on its hood, roof, windows and lights.
Additionally, you should always keep your eyes on the road and avoid any distractions while driving. This includes texting, eating, and drinking. A lack of attention on the roads can increase the chances of an accident, especially during heavy snowfalls and icy roads.
Aside from ice and snow, what should I be on the lookout for while driving?
With winter comes snow, and with the snow comes our friends who clear the way for us – snow removal vehicles. You should always give plows extra room and never attempt to pass them. The road surface behind a plow is always better than in front of it. When planning your route, keep in mind that plows will clear roads based on usage. Take extra caution if you are taking side streets or country roads.
I want to be prepared for the worst. What do you recommend I keep in my emergency kit?
A good tip for winter driving is to think, “what could happen”. When putting together your kit, be sure to include a shovel, ice scraper, extra washer fluid, first aid kit, blanket, flashlight and batteries, a bag of sand or kitty litter for traction and non-perishable energy bars. These supplies will have you equipped to handle a variety of scenarios.
As always, make sure you have your CAA Membership card on you. Should the unexpected happen and you require roadside assistance, call the number on the back of your card and to connect with our Roadside Heroes.