TurnersTips for safer winter driving

Colder weather-related claims due to slippery roads, black ice, and snow and freezing rain or white-out conditions are often why good drivers have an accident.

Here are some tips to help you reduce your chance of having an accident in the colder weather. You probably do most of them and might consider adding the one that you don't.

1. Consider the risk. If the weather is bad and conditions are poor then consider canceling your trip. If you cannot cancel then possibly delay until you hear the roads have been upgraded to fair condition. Check the weather reports online, on the local weather station on the radio or with your civic authority. Plan your trip. If you do not have a GPS then do look at using Google Maps to lay out your directions. Let a family member or friend know that you are making a journey and which route you intend to take. If you do not have OnStar to help find you then this information can be prove to be very helpful.

2. Just like a pilot checks over his plane for taking off, check your vehicle to be sure that the snow is cleared off the lights, front and rear. Clean your windows and the mirrors. Now is a good time to have everything in tip-top shape. You might invest in some new wipers as they can be put to a lot of use over the next few months. Be sure to keep the fluids topped up to avoid freezing, make this part of your regular maintenance. Avoid the "squishy tire" by checking your tire pressure. Your tires will deflate in cold weather. Your transport needs to have everything in working order including the heater, defroster, air pressure in your tires, a full gas tank and an emergency kit.

How do you know if your tires are the right ones for winter driving? The official winters tires have a little picture of a snowflake inside a mountain. You should consult a tire expert to know if your tires are still adequate for your needs. One way for you to estimate where your tire stands is to put a toonie between the tread on your tire. If the tread doesn't reach the gold centre of the toonie then you know for sure it's time to be buying new tires.

3. Pay close attention when driving. Be sure of the surface of the road on which you are traveling. Try to avoid the ice and slush between lanes. You can check your braking time and distance when there are no cars behind you. Be aware of the vehicles around you and what they are doing - if they are braking then likely something is causing this to happen. Try to plan ahead for lights and intersections.

4. Avoid driving while distracted. Do not use your cell phone unless you are in an emergency situation. Do not drive and text. This is not the time to be putting on lipstick, combing your hair or checking notes before an upcoming meeting.

5. Drive at the right speed for the conditions. If you are driving too fast you will not have enough time to make corrections if your vehicle starts to go into a slide. Driving too slow causes traffic jams and if someone loses control they may not be able to avoid you . Use the left hand lane for passing and stick to the right hand lane in fair or worse conditions. When the bad weather hits then there can be highway maintenance vehicles such as plows, sand and salt trucks with equipment out on the roads. Always approach these vehicles with caution Never pass these or any other vehicle on the right.

6. Know how to handle a skid. Keep calm. Steer in the direction of the skid. Do not accelerate. Do not brake. If your vehicle is manual transmission then de-clutch. If your vehicle is automatic transmission shift to neutral but only if you can do it right away, otherwise do not shift. Learn how to do this before hand, it could save your life.

7. If you do have to brake on a slippery road then you do threshold braking. This is done by squeezing the brakes while de-clutching (manual transmission) or shifting to neutral (automatic transmission). This also is best practiced before driving on an icy road.

Emergency Kit for Winter

Snow brush/ice scrapper Cell Phone/charger Warning flares/markers
Flashlight/matches/candles Non-perishable food and water Two blankets/GPS or maps
Extra Gloves/small shovel Sand or kitty litter First Aid Kit