Whether it's two feet of snow on the driveway or slush that turns a parking lot into a hockey rink, Canadians face some unpredictable harsh winter driving conditions.
- Get winter tires fitted. In addition to superior handling and braking, winter tires provide better traction than all-season ones, helping to shorten braking distance by as much as 25 per cent. You can put them on your vehicle when temperatures dip below 7°C. Remember that air pressure decreases in colder weather, so don't forget to check tire pressure at least once a month during the season.
- Stay alert (and in control). Everyday operating becomes much more difficult in wintery conditions such as snow, sleet, and ice. When out on the road be sure to give yourself plenty of room and time to turn or stop on a dime.
- Handle skidding like a pro. Chances are you'll encounter conditions that cause your vehicle to skid at some point this season. Though this may sound counter-intuitive, you should turn into the skid and accelerate. This shifts the weight of your car from the front to the rear, helping you to safely regain control.
- Don't be afraid to leave your car outside. Today's vehicles undergo more rigorous testing using realistic weather conditions than ever before. For example, General Motors puts its vehicles through extensive cold weather testing. “We know customers can leave cars parked in extreme cold for several days at a time,” explains Chris Jones, General Motors of Canada cold weather development centre supervisor. “Our 36-hour 'soak' mimics these conditions of prolonged inactivity and can identify any issues before a vehicle hits the market.” This should give you peace of mind when away for a long weekend.
- Create a driving 'survival kit.' Compile a kit full of safety and emergency winter equipment and leave it in the trunk at all times. Include items like water bottles and non-perishable foods as well as a first aid kit, flashlight, map, gloves, blanket, booster cables, windshield wiper fluid, and candles.