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Winter Driving Advice

Most us in northern climates do not drive our hobby cars in the winter. We reserve the salted roads and higher potential for collisions for our daily drivers, be they winter beaters or relatively new cars. Regardless of what you have, it is always wise to prepare your car for the demands of winter. Stay alert, slow down and stay in control — the three key elements of safe winter driving:

  • Drive according to highway and weather conditions.
  • Keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
  • Avoid situations where you may have to brake suddenly on a slippery surface.

Be Prepared — Driver's Checklist

Get your vehicle winter-ready with a maintenance check-up. Don't wait for winter to have your battery, belts hoses, radiator, oil, lights, brakes, exhaust system, heater/ defroster, wipers, and ignition system checked.

The condition of your vehicle's tires is important. Worn and damaged tires can hamper your ability to drive safely. Have them checked or replaced before winter begins. Remember to check tire air pressure frequently, as it decreases in cold weather.

Check weather and travel conditions before heading out. Don't take chances if the weather is bad. Allow yourself extra time for travel, or wait until conditions improve. Visit the Ministry's Travellers' Road Information web site at:
http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/traveller/conditions/index.html and www.ontario.ca/511

or call the Ministry of Transportation Travellers' Information number for local highway conditions: 1-800-268-4686. This number is also listed in your local phone directory. The Weather Network is also updated regularly with current highway conditions.

If you are travelling a long distance, plan your route ahead of time. Let someone know of your destination and expected time of arrival.

Wear comfortable clothing that doesn't restrict your movement while at the wheel. Keep warm clothing for getting out of your vehicle.

Before clearing snow and ice from all windows, lights, mirrors, and the roof, start your car and turn the windshield defroster(s) on (i.e., hottest air and highest fan speed). By the time you've cleared the ice from the windows and the snow from car, the frost/fog on the interior glass should be mostly gone. Before driving off, wait for the fog to clear from the interior of the windows so you will have good visibility all around.

Keep a winter survival kit in your vehicle. Having essential supplies can provide some comfort and safety for you and your passengers should you become stranded.