Winter months are typically the worst for driving in Vancouver and most of the lower mainland. Slick road conditions, poor visibility, and reckless drivers all combine to make it a treacherous outing every time you hit the road in winter. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can to do make sure you, your passengers and your vehicle make it home in one piece. Before you do any more driving this winter, take a look at some of the safety tips below which will help keep you safe, and keep your car out of the auto body shop.
Winter Driving Tips to Keep you Safe
1. Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter Conditions
Not everyone has winter tires, but they are usually worth it if you want to avoid slipping and sliding on the road in winter. Thanks to their improved traction, it makes it easier to brake suddenly, even in wet or icy conditions. You should also make sure to have a good quality scraper and brush in your car before the winter kicks into full gear. It is important to always completely clear your car windows and mirrors of snow so you don’t have to contend with poor visibility. In addition to the scraper and brush, if you find you are often on the road in winter, it is a good idea to keep a few emergency items handy such as a flashlight, jumper cables, and even a small shovel.
2. Do Not Tailgate
You should never tailgate, even in good driving conditions, but especially not in winter. When visibility is poor, sudden stops can occur more frequently, which can put you in a bad spot if you are following too closely. A good way to avoid tailgating is to try and stay at least a car’s length behind the car in front of you at all times.
3. Practice Smooth Driving
Avoiding any abrupt stops or turns can keep you out of the ditch this winter. When the roads are covered in ice or snow, and even cold water in some cases, your tires won’t have the friction required to make any sharp turns or sudden stops. Maintain a slow and steady speed, and anticipate your next stops, turns or lane changes in advance so you don’t have to make any sudden moves that end up scratching your car paint.
4. Control Skids
Most people will want to avoid skids and sliding out of control in their vehicle by turning the opposite direction to which they are sliding. In fact, it is important to fight your instincts to do so if you find yourself skidding out of control on a snowy road. Instead, turn into the skid and accelerate slightly to transfer the weight of your vehicle from front to rear. This will give you a much better chance of correcting the skid or at least stopping safely. You should also never pump your brakes to stop from sliding or skidding, especially if your vehicle has ABS brakes. Press slowly on the brakes and apply even pressure as you normally would.
5. Pay Attention
One of the worst offenses drivers commit on the road these days is their lack of attention. This issue becomes exacerbated in poor winter driving conditions. You should always pay close attention to where you are going as well as your surroundings at all times when behind the wheel. One careless mistake in winter can lead to major vehicle damage, or worse, so pay attention and try to anticipate any possible sudden moves you might need to make to avoid a collision.