5 Tips To Keep You Safe Driving This Winter
1. Get winter tires.
This is the easy one people. In some provinces, such as Quebec, you have to get winter tires, it's against the law not to. I used to always say I was never ever going to get winter tires, I always argued with people about why it was a silly economic decision to purchase a second set of tires. Why don't you just drive slower, wouldn't that keep you safe?!?
I was quite the ignorant sixteen year old Regina kid. Several close calls and one accident later I gave in. I finally got winter tires for my little Mazda. What a difference! I stopped sliding all over the place, I could keep a better pace on roads and not drive like I was 90 anymore. In the winter, I hated driving because it always took so long, winter tires actually made me enjoy winter a bit more.
Now I drive a Ford Escape, it's a 4x4 and still I had winter tires put on it. It's not worth the risk driving on the highway in forty below conditions without them. You can get winter tires for less than $1,000 now. That's a small price to pay for the assurance on those frozen Regina roads.
2. Always let your car warm-up, even a little bit, before you drive
How often around the first snowfall of the year have you got into your car without warming it up, frost on the windshield, and still driven away with slightly more than a peep-hole to look out of in front of you?
You don't have to admit it to me, but we all need to be reminded that if most accidents happen when you're within two blocks of your home. Don't play into the statistics, scrape that windshield and warm-up the engine, your passengers will thank you.
3. Don't leave the house without a cell phone.
I don't care if you completely hate cell phones and refuse to carry one with you at all times. When you're on a trip, especially if you're on your own, you must have a cell phone in the vehicle. You're risking your life if you don't. At this point I don't think I need to go on about the benefits of taking a cell phone with you when you're traveling. If you still disagree with me this far in, well I don't think I'm going to change your mind. Move on to step 4.
4. Make sure you have enough clothes in your car to keep you warm if the engine stalls in the middle of nowhere.
It's a great idea to have a parka in your car complete with big big mitts, boots, toque, scarf, etc. In case of an emergency you need to prepare to stay in your car for at least 12 hours in freezing cold temperatures.
There's nothing worse than being on your way to see your Aunt Una from Ituna and your cars' engine stalls in the middle of literally nowhere. Then the Saskatchewan blizzard settles in for the night. I've seen it happen a hundred times before. You're stuck without help for hours on end. A cell phone won't help you, a search party can't find what a search party can't see. You have to be prepared to stay in your car for at least 12 hours.
Another great idea is to have a couple blankets and a first aid kit complete with matches and candles and all the other survival content that you hope you'll never have to use.
5. Practice defensive driving
You can't worry about the things you can't control and what you need to worry about are the things you can control, your own car. Never following another car too close, always approaching icy intersections with caution, keeping your eye on how fast approaching cars are coming at, always ensuring you have an outlet to move your car to incase of an emergency.