After an unseasonably warm fall, temperatures are finally starting to drop. We can’t deny it any longer, winter is on its way. With that in mind, here is a list of helpful winter driving tips to keep you safe as the season changes:
- Be mindful of black ice. This weather phenomenon occurs when temperatures are just under or just over freezing, a pretty standard temperature range during our Nova Scotia winters.
- Avoid driving in a storm. If you absolutely have to travel, particularly long distances, track the road and highway conditions along your route. The Province of Nova Scotia gathers this information, which may be obtained by calling 511, 1-888-432-3233, or by going online at http://511.gov.ns.ca/en/.
- Adjust your speed to current weather conditions. Slow down and drive with caution when roads are icy, or when the weather is changing and road conditions are adjusting.
- Follow traffic at a safe distance. Allow yourself extra room to stop, especially when travelling at highway speeds. This still applies to 4X4, all wheel and utility vehicles. Although these vehicles might have better overall traction control, they won’t help you come to a stop any faster in slippery conditions. And it also applies when passing and merging on multi-lane roadways.
- Snow tires. It isn’t the law in Nova Scotia that you have them, but they are highly recommended for safe winter driving. The rubber used to make them is specially designed for cold weather and winter conditions. They ensure better contact with the road surface and overall safer driving. Although pricey, they are one of the best investments a cold climate motorist can make in their safety.
- Clear your windshields and turn your lights on. Give yourself extra time in the mornings to make sure you scrape and defrost all of your windows, mirrors, headlights and tail lights before heading out. Ensure your windshield wipers are in good working order, buy a pair of winter wipers if necessary. Impaired visibility is dangerous for everyone on the road and the police will issue a ticket if they catch you.
- Emergency kit. It’s a great idea to carry one of these in your vehicle at all times just in case you get stuck. Some items to consider including are: non-perishable food and water, blanket, whistle, jumper cables, tow rope, gloves, small shovel, traction pads, salt/sand, and a paper map. We get used to relying on our phones, but wifi or LTE may not always be available, or your phone could run out of power before you are able to make it safely home. Pre-packed kits are widely available for purchase, in stores and online.
- No cellphones. This applies all year round but is especially important when navigating on winter roads. If you are caught, you can be issued a ticket, fine, and have demerit points attach to your license. Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel!
Winter is a great time of year and we here at Wagners love to take advantage of all of the fun things the season has to offer. If you follow these tips, you’re taking steps to ensure that your ability to do the same thing won’t be derailed by an avoidable winter driving accident.