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12.01.2016 | Road Safety

Safe Winter Driving

The first official day of winter is less than a month away but we’ve already had a hint of winter driving across Ontario. With a cold, snowy season in the forecast, it’s a great reminder to brush up on winter road safety to ensure you’re not caught off guard by the changing weather.

Remember, you are responsible for maintaining control of your vehicle, even during winter weather.

Practicing safe driving habits is the best way to avoid traffic violations and prevent at-fault accidents in changing weather conditions. But, you should also take extra care to prepare your vehicle for winter driving before you get behind the wheel.

As winter weather arrives, many drivers are caught off guard by snow flurries and icy road conditions. In Canada, nearly 30% of accidents occur on icy roads. In addition to driving with extra caution, winter tires are a great way to improve traction in slippery conditions.

While all-season tires lose their grip at temperatures below +7°C, winter tires have wider treads and softer rubber that are specifically designed for performance in cold, slippery road conditions. With enhanced performance, winter tires help reduce the stopping distance your vehicle requires. According to the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario, Winter Tires can shorten stopping distances by up to 25%. And, when you add winter tires to your vehicle, you’re eligible for an auto insurance discount.

In addition to adding winter tires, here are some other great tips to keep in mind before you get behind the wheel:

Before You Travel

  • Regularly check tire pressure as it can decrease in cold weather, affecting tire performance
  • Check the wheel nuts to ensure they are secure, especially after changing to your winter tires
  • Never mix tires of different tread or sizes
  • Clear wheel wells of any built up snow or ice before departure
  • Check Road Conditions before Departure
    • ontario.ca/511
    • Call 511 (hands-free)
    • @511ontario
  • Clear your car of ice and snow completely before you get on the road, don’t forget to clear your lights and mirrors too
  • Equip your vehicle with a winter roadside safety kit
    • The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario suggests including:
      • A charged cell phone
      • Non-perishable food
      • Water
      • Flashlight
      • Blanket or warm clothes
      • Jumper cables
      • Shovel and traction mats or sand

Planning your trip and preparing your vehicle in advance can help improve your safety during winter conditions. However, practicing good driving habits is the best way to safe on the road, any time of year.

Taking extra precautions when driving in wintery weather can help keep you safe and on your path to lower insurance rates. Follow these helpful tips to ensure you stay safe this winter:

Winter Driving Tips

  • Do not attempt to pass snow ploughs
  • Watch for reflections on the road that may indicate ice
  • Slow down and keep your distance from other drivers
  • Drive according to road conditions
  • Limit use of cruise control as it can reduce your reaction time
  • Take extra care when crossing intersections near snowbanks
  • If conditions worsen, find a safe place to pull of the road and resume when conditions improve

If you have questions about winter driving and your insurance, call your insurance broker today.

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