Police offer driving tips for winter conditions

The Ontario Provincial Police are asking all motorists to ensure their vehicles are ready for winter conditions and begin to think about changing driving habits.

“Ensuring your vehicle is in top condition and slowing down will reduce the number of collisions which result in injury and death on our roadways,” said traffic inspector Ian Chappell.

Police encourage all motorists to ensure their vehicles are fully prepared to meet the challenges winter driving brings.  The checklist should include:

– ensuring the vehicle is mechanically sound and running well;

– ensuring the fuel tank is always above half full;

– checking to make sure exhaust is free of holes or leaks;

– replacing windshield wipers and putting winter washer fluid in the reservoir;

– putting on winter tires for added traction and stopping ability;

– ensuring the vehicle’s defrost and interior heaters are working properly; and

– checking all running lights to ensure visibility.

Police stress there is no magic to winter driving and they say the number one cause of motor vehicle collisions during snowy conditions is driving too fast for road and weather conditions.

“When you see snow-go slow,” said Sgt. Dave Rektor.  Police also encourage motorists to have the following items in their vehicle that will help in case they become stranded:

– fully charged cell phone;

– “call police” sign;

– fully charged flashlight;

– battery operated radio;

– warm blanket;

– tin can and a candle to aid in keeping warm;

– extra pair of winter boots, hat, gloves, hand/foot warmers;

– bottled water/juice; and

– snack/nutrition bars.

 These items will help those stranded survive winter conditions and to stay calm in a snow storm.

Driving in winter conditions can be dangerous and frightening.  Driving during periods of heavy snow or white-out conditions is not recommended.  

The OPP offers the following tips in relation to winter driving:

– always check with local media outlets, Environment Canada or the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) before venturing onto roadways (if a snow storm is imminent, modify driving times to reflect the best conditions);

– reducing speed during snow events can improve stopping distances and help navigate the vehicle;

– if stopped for any reason, activate hazard lights and ensure the vehicle is well off the traveled portion of the road (whenever possible, pull into a driveway or parking lot rather than remaining on the shoulder of the road);

– if exiting the vehicle, ensure there are no other cars approaching and do so in safety (the safest place to be is inside the vehicle);

– if stuck in a ditch and there is a need to keep the motor running, ensure the exhaust is clear of snow (this will prevent carbon monoxide from entering the vehicle);

– when using the engine, or a lit candle to heat the vehicle, ensure a couple of windows are down about one inch to allow carbon dioxide to escape the vehicle and allow fresh air to enter; and

– tell someone about the planned route and expected return (call if running late).

Police are also asking motorists to not call the Provincial Communications Centre (dispatch) for road and weather conditions.  Police will not provide this information and calling ties up phone lines that others depend on for emergency situations.