Winter Driving

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Are You and Your Vehicle Ready For Winter?

Winter weather can be very challenging at times, often placing extra demands on your vehicle and driving skills. Follow these tips to help get your vehicle ready for winter:

  • Take your vehicle for a maintenance check-up. Have the following checked:

    • Battery
    • Brakes
    • Tires
    • Antifreeze
    • Belts and hoses
    • Radiator
    • Lights
    • Heater and defroster
    • Ignition system
    • Windshield wipers
  • Monitor fluid levels ensure your vehicle’s fuel tank is at least half full.  The extra volume can help reduce moisture problems in your fuel system, add weight to your vehicle, and be an asset if you become stranded.
  • Carry an extra jug of windshield washer fluid that works to -40°C. 
    Clear snow and ice from all the windows, lights, mirrors, and roof.  Wait for the fog to clear from the interior of the windows before driving.
  • Install four winter tires for better traction, braking, and handling in slippery and snowy conditions.
  • Check the condition of your tires and their air pressure regularly. Air pressure decreases in cold weather.
  • Carry a survival kit in your vehicle. It should include the following:
    • ​First Aid Kit
    • Extra clothes, blanket, winter boots
    • High energy, non-perishable food like granola bars or bottles of water
    • Emergency flares and “Call Police” sign
    • Flashlight and batteries
    • Candle, matches, and a tin can
    • Shovel, kitty litter, sand, or traction mats
    • Booster cables
    • Cell Phone

The Ministry of Transportation encourages Ontario drivers in the winter to:

  • Check the weather before leaving. Provincial highway road closures and conditions are available 24/7 online: OR call 511 OR twitter @511Ontario. Consider postponing or delaying a trip until conditions improve.
  • Slow down, stay alert, and in control.  Posted speed limits are intended for ideal road conditions. Ensure that you are rested and have eliminated distractions for proper focus.
  • Stay behind a working snow plow, do not pass it. Road maintenance can take time so remain patient. If you are travelling you may want to visit Track my Plow  to find out where plows are on certain provincial highways.
  • See and be seen. Use your vehicles full-lighting system in poor visibility and whiteout conditions.

It is also important to know what to do in a road side emergency especially when travelling with children and anyone that is vulnerable. First be aware that if visibility is decreasing you should pull off into a safe parking area and wait for conditions to improve.

If you do end up stranded or stuck, here are some things to consider:

  • Remain calm, and don’t panic.
  • Stay in your vehicle for safety and warmth yet first make sure that your exhaust pipe is clear from drifting snow.
  • Use caution on the side of a road, avoid opening doors into traffic.
  • Wait for help to arrive.
  • Call for help if cellular service is available. Dialing 911 will connect you to emergency services.  Please use 1-888-310-1122 for non-emergencies.
  • Identify your need for help with emergency flashers, flares or a “Call Police” sign.
  • Run your engine sparingly and be careful of exhaust fumes. It is suggested to slightly open a window away from the wind to have a continuous supply of fresh air.
  • In blizzard conditions, especially overnight, make sure that one person stays awake as help could take some time to arrive.
  • Maintain your circulation by moving your feet, hands and arms.
  • Stay warm by bundling up with a blanket and clothes and if necessary use a candle in a tin can to generate some heat.

For more information on winter driving, visit the Ontario Ministry of Transportation website.

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