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Winter Driving Tips

When weather conditions are unpredictable, increased demands are placed on a driver and their vehicle. The following winter driving tips should be considered well in advance of the first snowfall, so that all motorists are prepared for the unpredictability Canadian winters often bring. Consider the following:

Vehicle Readiness

Performing a maintenance check-up is critical to winter readiness. Make sure the tires, brakes, oil, lights, exhaust system, heater/defroster and windshield wipers are examined.

Keeping your fuel tank at least half full is recommended. When an emergency situation requires you to remain in your vehicle on days when there is freezing weather, being able to stay warm is critical to your health and safety.

Make sure you have enough windshield washer fluid in your vehicle, and make sure you keep an extra container in case you run out.

Clear all snow and ice from your roof, windows, mirrors and lights. Wait to ensure that all fog is cleared from the inside of your vehicle before putting the car into motion.

Make sure your tires are properly maintained, as tires that are worn or damaged can affect your ability to drive safely. It is important to replace your tires before the tread depth reaches 1.5 mm, as studies have shown that that tires with a tread of 3 mm deep are able to stop a vehicle on wet pavement in 25% shorter distance than a tire with a 1.5 mm tread.

Handling Your Vehicle in Winter Driving

Most collisions that occur during the winter season are a result of drivers travelling too fast for weather conditions. Most important is that drivers slow down, and allow for extra space between your vehicle and other motorists.

Take care to look for reflections on the road, as what looks like water might actually be ice. Be especially careful as you approach shaded areas, bridges and overpasses, as these areas of road freeze faster and stay frozen for longer periods of time. Make sure to steer gently in slippery conditions, and avoid quick acceleration and hard breaking which may cause your vehicle to skid. A skid occurs when a vehicle loses traction over a slippery surface. If your vehicle is skidding, release your breaks and steer in the direction of the skid. Make sure not to over-steer.

Also, avoid using cruise control in slippery weather conditions, as this function reduces overall reaction time and vehicle control.

Finally, never pass a snow plow. Accidents that occur between motorists and snow plows have resulted in many fatalities. Passing between or around snow plows is very dangerous due to whiteout conditions and the ridge of snow being passed between plows. Be sure to maintain a safe distance from snow plows when you see their blue flashing lights.

Be Prepared

Finally, it is important to be prepared with emergency supplies in case you find yourself needing them. Make sure you have a charged cell phone in your vehicle, along with non-perishable food, water, a flashlight, blankets, warm clothes and jumper cables.

Be sure to check weather and travel conditions before getting into your vehicle. Plan extra travelling time, and consider delaying your travel if weather conditions are bad. Stay safe this winter and be road ready!

Visit http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/ontario-511/pdfs/winter-safe-driving.pdf for more information around safety practices and winter driving.

Are All-Season Tires Actually Safe for Winter Driving?

Each winter, almost half of Canadian drivers will be driving on all-season tires that freeze in the cold, slide on slush, and can take 30 meters longer to stop on smooth ice, putting them at much greater risk of car accidents. Tire dealer, Kal Tire, encourages drivers to avoid all-season (three-season) tires and consider all-weather tires, ‘the winter tire you can drive all year long.’

“We don’t think drivers realize how dangerous all-seasons are in the winter, or that they have a much safer year-round tire option,” says Carey Hull, director of retail products, Kal Tire. All-weather tires, sometimes confused for all-season tires, are designated winter tires that give drivers safe traction in the winter as well as superior handling in the summer. “What we’re saying is, if you’re going to have only one set of tires on your vehicle through the year, make it an all-weather tire.”

Kal Tire has enlisted the help of Bill Gardiner, contributor to Motoring TV since the start of the show, and often referred to as ‘The Doctor of Cars’ to educate drivers across Canada about the dangers of driving all-season tires in the winter.

For many years Bill has travelled the country educating Canadian motorists on the importance of car safety, and, as a licensed mechanic, every winter his customers count on him to make the right tire selection for their vehicle.  “As Canadians, there are so many things that are beyond our control in the winter,” says Gardiner. “But how we prepare our vehicles for winter is 100 per cent within our control.”

Critical auto injuries due to accidents and collisions, when they occur, can often result in grave injury, permanent disabilities or death for drivers and their passengers, bystanders, motorcyclists, and cyclists. That is why it’s so important to maintain the safety of your vehicle and use tires that are designed and tested for Canadian winters. If you or a family member is involved in a serious automobile accident this winter, contact car accident lawyers for a free consultation.

Source: Think Your All-Season Tires are Safe for Winter? Think Again

Visibility is Crucial when Biking in the Winter

If you commute to work by bike in Toronto year-round, it’s important to take proper precautions during different weather conditions. While visibility is important all the time, it’s especially crucial when biking in the winter because it’s likely that you’ll be out on the road before the sun rises and after the sun sets, making you less visible to vehicles. Add snow and ice to the mix and your chances of an accident increase.

The City of Toronto has a whole section of their website devoted to safe cycling in the city. They caution that not every winter day is a cycling day and state that some days it is better to leave your bicycle at home. Riding in the snow is a challenge even for very highly skilled cyclists.

  • Use a steady white light in front–the brighter the better – Highway Traffic Act 62 (HTA 62). Use rechargeable batteries since you will need to use your lights almost everyday.
  • Use a constant red light in the back–not a flashing light (HTA 62).
  • A red rear reflector and front white reflector are a good back-up in case a light goes out.
  • Generator lights stop working when the wheels stop so have a back up light.
  • Bright colours and reflective gear are recommended for dark and wet weather conditions-both conditions reduce motorist vision.
  • Consider adding reflective tape to your jacket. Reflective bands are also widely available for your pant legs and arms, as are reflective vests.
  • Reflective tape is required under the HTA (62): white on the front forks and red on the back seat stays.
  • Wear cycling glasses with high contrast lenses to increase night vision and carry an anti-fogging spray with you (prescription cycling glasses are also available).
  • Stay on bright streets with good street lighting.

As you can see, the Highway Traffic Act requires you to follow some of the tips listed above. Not doing so could not only result in hefty fines, but also serious injury. If you are injured in a cycling accident, contact our cycling accident lawyer.


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Mazin & Associates PC dedicates itself to achieving maximum settlements in serious personal injury and accident cases. Our areas of practice include car accidents, motorcycle injuries, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, slip and falls, wrongful death, product liability, long-term disability and medical malpractice.

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