Dec. 07/06 - Winter is almost here, and with it, icy roads and blowing snow. To make sure motorists arrive safely to their destinations, Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield offers some simple winter driving tips.
"One third of all winter traffic collisions are caused by excessive speed and loss of control," Cansfield said. "Alert driving and keeping one's vehicle in good working order are the keys to safe winter driving."
Here are some simple rules to remember when tackling winter roads:
- Skidding - Take your foot off the brake and gas, shift to neutral, and steer in the direction you want to go.
- Spacing - It takes longer to stop on slippery roads. Keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
- Lighting - Turn on your headlights in low light conditions such as blowing snow and whiteouts. Do not rely on daytime running lights.
- Plan ahead - Check weather and travel conditions before leaving.In poor weather, give yourself extra travel time or wait until conditions improve. It's best not to take chances if the weather is bad.
- Visibility - Clear snow and ice from all windows, lights, mirrors and roof of your vehicle for the best visibility. Loose snow from your vehicle could also blow onto other vehicles and block other drivers' vision.
Keeping a vehicle in proper working condition for winter driving is equally important:
- Ensure your vehicle is mechanically ready for winter by getting a maintenance check-up.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full. Engines burn more fuel in cold weather.
- Replace worn or damaged tires. Consider using winter tires that provide better traction in snow, slush and ice.
- If you get stranded, don't panic. Turn off your car to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, and stay in your vehicle for safety and warmth and wait for help to arrive. Dialing "*OPP" on your cell phone will connect you with the Ontario Provincial Police.
- Keep a winter survival kit in your car: a candle and a small tin can, matches, blanket, extra footwear and some high-energy food, such as cereal bars.
To help drivers plan ahead, information on road conditions across Ontario and on safe winter driving is available on MTO's website. Information on road conditions is also available by calling the ministry's information line, toll-free at 1-800-268-4686, or 416-235-4686 in the Greater Toronto Area.
"Winter is a special time of year. Keeping a cool head will help get you to where you want to go safely." Cansfield said.