Winter Driving Tips

Stay alert, slow down and stay in control - the three key elements to safe winter driving. Drive according to current road and weather conditions. Keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. Avoid situations where you may have to brake suddenly on a slippery surface.

There are usually two parts to a freeway entrance: an entrance ramp and an acceleration lane. In this lane, drivers raise their speed to the common speed of traffic on the freeway before they merge with it.

As you move along the freeway entrance ramp, look ahead and check your mirrors and blind spots to assess the traffic to see where you will move into the nearest freeway lane.

As you leave the ramp and enter the acceleration lane, signal and increase your speed to merge smoothly with traffic. Freeway drivers should move over, if it is safe to do so, leaving; room for merging vehicles.

A few entrance ramps join the free way on the left. This means you enter the fastest lane of traffic first. Use the acceleration lane to match your speed to the traffic, increasing your speed more quickly.

How to Handle Entrance Problems:

Entering a freeway can be an unnerving experience, especially if you are a new driver. However, with practice you will find that it's not too difficult. The following are common problems you may have when entering a freeway, and ways to deal with them.
 
1.    You can't find a gap. During rush-hour it may be very difficult to find a gap in the traffic flow. If traffic is too close together for you to merge safely, slow down at the beginning of the acceleration lane and proceed carefully. When you see a gap, start accelerating rapidly, make sure your directional signal is on, and merge with the traffic flow. Never stop at the end of the acceleration lane. You won't have enough space to accelerate to the common speed.
2.    There is an uncertain driver ahead. Some drivers get very panicky when they have to enter fast-moving traffic. The best thing to do is to increase the space cushion between you and the car ahead. Give the other driver a bit of extra time to find a gap. Make sure the driver has merged with the traffic flow before you start to accelerate. Above all, don't rush the other driver into making a mistake.
3.    There is a "weaving area." In a weaving area cars that are exiting must cross the paths of other cars that are entering. Entering and exiting drivers should cooperate. Either slow down to let the other vehicle cross in front, or speed up to let it cross behind.
4.    The acceleration lane merges into the farthest left lane of traffic. In this situation the fastest cars will be in the lane you enter first. You will have to accelerate even faster and make your decisions more quickly. Luckily, this type of acceleration lane is quite rare
5.    You find yourself on the wrong entrance ramp. Sometimes drivers find they have not been paying close enough attention to the signs and they have entered the wrong ramp. If you make a mistake, don't back up. Enter the freeway anyway and turn off at the next exit. If you enter an exit ramp by mistake, you will meet oncoming traffic head on. This must be avoided at all costs. Pay close attention to all signs to be sure you are entering the proper entrance ramp

Blizzard
The most perilous of winter storms combining falling, blowing, drifting snow, winds of 40 km/hour or more, visibility less than 1 km, temperatures less than -10_C; duration: six hours or more.
Heavy snow
Ten centimeters or more in 12 hours, or 15 cm or more in 24 hours. Even less in temperate climates..
Freezing rain or drizzle
An ice storm coating roads, trees, overhead wires, etc. with ice.
Cold wave
A rapid fall in temperature in a short period, requiring greater than normal protective measures.
Winds
The cause of blizzard conditions, drifting, reduced visibility and wind-chill effects.
Black Ice
Where the road ahead looks like black and shiny asphalt. Shaded areas of the road, bridges and overpasses freeze sooner in cold weather, long after the sun has come out.

Reference:The above information are aparts of complete publications. This publications are available online from the following links (Click on the blue text)
Goverment of Canada Winter Driving
Ministry of Transportation of Ontario Winter Driving

If you get stuck or stranded, don't panic. Stay with your vehicle for safety and warmth. Wait for help to arrive. If you are in an area with cell phone service and have a cell phone, call for help. Remember, dialing *OPP will connect you to the nearest Ontario Provincial Police communications centre. Be careful if you have to get out of your vehicle when on the shoulder of a busy road. If possible, use the door away from traffic. If you attempt to free your vehicle from the snow, be careful out in the weather. Dress warmly, shovel slowly and do not overexert yourself. Do not attempt to shovel or push your vehicle if you have a medical condition. Body heat is retained when clothing is kept dry. Wet clothing, due to the weather or perspiration, can lead to a dangerous loss of body heat.

Draw attention to your vehicle. Use emergency flashers, flares or a Call Police sign. Run your motor sparingly. Be careful of exhaust fumes. For fresh air, slightly open a window away from the wind. You may have to exit your vehicle occasionally to make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of drifting snow before running the engine.
Remember to use the items in your winter survival kit for warmth and nourishment. If you have passengers, make sure they're comfortable. In blizzard conditions, especially overnight, make sure one person stays awake as help could take some time to arrive. Maintain circulation by moving your feet, hands and arms.

Winter Driving Survival Kit
It's a good thing to keep a winter survival kit in your vehicle. Having essential supplies can provide some comfort and safety for you and your passengers should you become stranded. Recommended items:
•    Ice scraper/snowbrush
•    Small tool kit
•    Shovel
•    Extra clothing and footwear
•    Sand or other traction aid
•    Blanket
•    Tow rope or chain
•    Non-perishable energy foods - e.g. chocolate or granola bars, juice, tea, soup, bottled water
•    Booster cables
•    Road flares or warning lights
•    Gas line antifreeze
•    Flashlight and batteries
•    Candle and a small tin can
•    First aid kit
•    Fire extinguisher
•    Matches

DID YOU KNOW ... Alcohol is not a good survival item and should never be part of your survival kit. And remember: never drink and drive!

Visibility
It's critical for drivers to see and be seen in low light conditions, and when blowing snow and white-outs impair your visibility. Turn on your vehicle's full lighting system.

Spacing
It takes longer to stop on a slippery road. It's important to leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle ahead. A guide to safe distancing under normal driving conditions is the two-second rule. In winter, and especially during poor weather conditions, double the two-second rule.

Braking
Make sure you know how to use your braking system in all weather and road conditions. Consider taking an advanced driving course that teaches emergency driving skills.

Skidding
In a skid it's important to regain control of your vehicle especially if it skids sideways. To do this, take your foot off the brake, step on the clutch or shift to neutral, then look where you want your vehicle to go and steer in that direction.

Snowy Roads
Snow on a road may be hard-packed and slippery as ice. It can also be rutted, and full of hard tracks and gullies. Or, it can be smooth and soft. Wet snow can make for slushy roads. Heavy slush can build up in the wheel wells of your vehicle, and can affect your ability to steer. Remember, look ahead and adjust your driving to the road and weather conditions. Slow down, avoid sudden turns of the steering wheel, and sudden braking and accelerating that could cause a skid.

Ice
Be careful when approaching shaded areas, bridges and overpasses, as these sections of road freeze much sooner in cold weather and stay frozen long after the sun has risen. Watch out for black ice - areas of the road that appear black and shiny and where your vehicle can lose traction suddenly. Slow down, keep your foot off the brake and be ready to shift to neutral or step on the clutch as your vehicle crosses these areas.

TAKE TIME... to ensure you are prepared to handle winter road conditions. Consider an advanced driver-training course that teaches emergency driving skills.

1.    Get your vehicle winter-ready with a maintenance check-up. Don't wait for winter to set in to have your battery, belts and hoses, radiator, oil, lights, brakes, exhaust system, heater/ defroster, wipers and ignition system checked.
2.    Have tires and tire pressure checked. Tire air pressure decreases in colder weather. Depending on where you live and the amount of driving you do, snow tires can provide better traction.
3.    Check weather and travel conditions before heading out. Don't take chances if the weather is bad. Give yourself extra time for travel, or wait until conditions improve. Call the Ministry of Transportation's information number on road conditions listed in your local phone directory.
4.    If you are traveling a long distance, plan your route ahead of time. Let someone know of your destination and expected time of arrival.
5.    Wear comfortable clothing that doesn't restrict your movement while at the wheel. Keep warm clothing for getting out of your vehicle.
6.    Clear snow and ice from all windows, lights, mirrors and the roof. After starting your vehicle, wait for the interior of the windows to clear of fog so you will have good visibility all around.
7.    Make sure you travel with at least half a tank of gas.
8.    Make sure you have sufficient windshield washer fluid in the reservoir and that it is rated in the -40°C temperature range. Keep an extra jug in the vehicle.
9.    If you are in an area with cell phone service and have a cell phone, use it only when necessary. When you need help, pull well off the road to make or receive a call. Remember, dialing *OPP will connect you to the nearest Ontario Provincial Police communications centre.

PLAY IT SAFE!

Severe winter driving conditions may make you nervous, uncomfortable or fearful. Unless absolutely necessary, stay off the road. Proper preparation and the right skills will help you face the challenge of winter driving.

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