Stay safe for National Safe Driving Week with these 6 tips
It’s National Safe Driving Week! From December 1 – 7, the Canada Safety Council takes a week to raise awareness of safe driving, particularly during the wintry holiday season. Safe driving should be practiced year-round, but it is especially prevalent when safety risks on the road skyrocket. To champion National Safe Driving Week, we’ve compiled some tips to keep you and your family safe behind the wheel this winter.
1) Get your car winter-ready
Before the full force of the winter weather begins, take these steps for vehicle maintenance that will see your car through to the springtime.
Your battery should always be your first priority. Throughout winter, it undergoes a massive bout of cold temperatures, which can minimize output. The increased use of the lights and heater also place it under added pressure. If your vehicle is experiencing difficulties starting, get the battery inspected and exchanged if necessary.
As tires are indispensable to steering and stopping, it is crucial they are in tip-top shape. You can ensure this by checking for pressure and tread depth and swap your all-seasons for some winter tires.
2) Read up on your road safety resources
Check weather and road conditions frequently through the Ontario Ministry of Transportation or Ontario 511. Pick the route you'll take ahead of time and look at the weather forecast to guarantee you know what to expect before you set off.
Slow down and always allow yourself extra travel time. Drive in a way that is consistent with your environment and don't rely on your GPS to tell you when you’ll reach your destination.
The non-emergency phone number for the Ontario Provincial Police is 1-888-310-1122. For provincial highway conditions, go to http://www.ontario.ca/511 or call 511.
3) Prepare a Winter Emergency Kit
Armed with the following items, you’ll be prepared to manage any winter roadside breakdown, and evade frostbite or freezing. This is especially true if you drive through sparsely populated areas where getting trapped in a snowstorm can be even more dangerous:
- Ice scraper / snow brush
- Jumper cables, gear to change a flat tire, and a tow rope
- High-energy food that doesn’t expire, and water
- First-aid kit
- Phone charger / power pack
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Kitty litter, sand or tire treads
- Candle and waterproof matches
- Roadside emergency supplies
- Winter clothes and a heavy blanket
4) Share the road
One of the most important elements of driving safely is being considerate of all road users. Motorists should keep in mind that they are sharing the road not just with other cars, buses and trucks, but with cyclists and pedestrians as well, even in 30 below!
Stop at all stop signs and red lights. Anticipate the motorists around you and leave a few metres of extra space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Signal all lane changes, drive slowly and be conscious of other motorists and potential road hazards.
If you find yourself following a snowplough, keep a safe distance. Snowplough drivers do not always have good visibility and can create billows of snow that can lessen your ability to see, as well.
5) Manage your vehicle on icy roads
How your car reacts to a skid varies depending on whether or not its transmission system is rear wheel, front wheel or four-wheel drive. If your vehicle has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), learn how to apply it properly.
If you hit ice, ease off the brake, and point your wheels forward. Maintain constant control of driving speed and direction. Remember to stay calm – panicking during a skid can put you and the drivers around you in greater danger.
6) Don't drink & drive
Even the slightest amounts of alcohol in the bloodstream impair driving capability, and seriously increase the danger of a critical or even fatal accident. It’s best to set some rules regarding drinking and driving up front and stick to those rules.
Be sure you’re well-rested before getting behind the wheel. Drowsiness weakens your attention, memory and coordination, all fundamental for safe driving.
Impaired driving isn’t only limited to alcohol and sleep, remember to put the phone away! The physical, visual and mental distraction produces dangerous driving and increases the chances of a crash. Invest in a hands-free Bluetooth car kit, or just return that call or text once you reach your destination.
How do you get winter driving ready? Tweet us @OnliaCA #OnliaCA with your tips.