Note: We received several comments of thanks from our readers for providing these Winter Driving Tips in the CLMI Newsletter this past month. I hope that you will find them useful.
We’ve all seen Winter Safe Driving tips over the years. This condensed list is from the Minnesota Safety Council and provides excellent guidance. I hope you think so too and share them with your family, friends, employees or others you care about.
How should you prepare yourself for winter driving?
- Plan your driving in advance.
- Avoid driving when fatigued.
- Contact your provincial “Road Reports” to get updates regarding road conditions in the region to which you are going.
- Check weather conditions for your travel route (and time) before you begin driving.
- Plan your arrival time at a destination by taking into account any delays due to slower traffic, reduced visibility, roadblocks, abandoned automobiles, collisions, etc.
- Inform someone of your route and planned arrival time.
- Choose warm and comfortable clothing. If you need to remove outdoor clothing later while driving, STOP the vehicle in a safe spot.
- Warm up your vehicle BEFORE driving off. It reduces moisture condensing on the inside of the windows.
- NEVER warm up your vehicle in a closed garage.
- Remove snow and ice from your vehicle. It helps to see and, equally important, to be seen.
- Wear sunglasses on bright sunny days.
- Bring a cell phone if you have one but do not leave it in the car as the battery will freeze.
How should you drive in winter weather?
- Buckle up before you start driving. Keep your seat belt buckled at all times.
- SLOW DOWN! - posted speed limits are for ideal travel conditions. Driving at reduced speeds is the best precautionary measure against any misfortune while driving on slippery roads. “Black ice” is invisible.
- Be aware of the road conditions. Black ice will make a road look like shiny new asphalt. Pavement should look grey-white in winter.
- Do not use cruise control. Winter driving requires you to be in full control at all times.
- Reduce your speed while approaching intersections covered with ice or snow.
- Allow for extra travelling time or even consider delaying a trip if the weather is inclement.
- Drive with low-beam headlights on. Not only are they brighter than daytime running lights but turning them on also activates the tail lights. This makes your vehicle more visible.
- Lengthen your following distance behind the vehicle ahead of you. Stopping distance on an icy road can be up to 10 times that of stopping on a dry one. For example, from around 175 ft at the speed of 50 mph, to over 1,750 ft on an icy road surface. (Even if it’s half that there’s a huge difference!)
- Stay in the right-hand lane except when passing and use turn signals when changing lanes.
- Steer with smooth and precise movements. Changing lanes too quickly and jerky steering while braking or accelerating can cause skidding.
- Be aware and slow down when you see a sign warning that you are approaching a bridge. Steel and concrete bridges are likely to be icy even when there is no ice on the asphalt surface, (because bridges over open air cool down faster than roads which tend to be insulated somewhat by solid ground.)
- Consider getting off the road before getting stranded if the weather is worsening.
- Be patient and pass other cars only when it is safe to do so.
Did we miss anything? Please comment with your tips and thoughts for improving driver safety during these winter months. Thanks!