December 20, 2013 1:21 am
When it comes to staying safe on the road, your tires matter. Upgrading to sturdy winter tires for the icy months is a surefire way to improve your safety—and mobility—on the road.
"Winter driving is all about preparation, and the key to being ready for winter is taking the necessary steps to be safe before getting behind the wheel," says Ian Law, chief instructor of the ILR Car Control School in Ontario, Canada.
Beyond properly equipping vehicles, he offers advice for motorists who will be faced with potentially slippery driving conditions this winter:
- Match your driving speed to the current conditions. If conditions are challenging due to a slippery road surface or reduced visibility, decrease your speed. A slower driving speed allows more time for a necessary response.
- Additional factors to consider when adjusting speed are the condition of the vehicle, its tires and your driving abilities. Always keep the posted speed limits in mind, and understand that those limits indicate the maximum speed when weather conditions are good.
- Plan ahead and try to anticipate potentially dangerous situations. When approaching a curve or potentially slick area of the road, use the brakes effectively. The brakes should be applied only before a curve and on a straight section of the road.
- Be alert to other vehicles. Maintain enough distance between your vehicle and the one ahead of you. If someone else seems to be following too close to your vehicle, perhaps slow down to allow them to pass – rather than speeding up to achieve a safe, distance between vehicles.
- If visibility is poor, remember to use your lights. This helps other drivers to see you when approaching or when following. You should always turn your lights on when your windshield wipers are on.
- Set the vehicle cabin to a comfortable temperature. This can be a challenge during winter, but it is imperative to be comfortable when driving. Cabin comfort includes keeping the windows free of frost, ice and snow.
- Avoid overconfident driving, and avoid overestimating the vehicle's capability simply because it is equipped with anti-lock brakes, four-wheel drive, traction control or other safety devices. Do not allow good judgment and smart driving to be overtaken by a false sense of security provided by vehicle technology.
- Before driving in inclement weather, be sure that your vehicle is properly maintained. Make sure your windshield wipers work properly; have the correct level of antifreeze for heating and defrosting the vehicle; keep plenty of gas in the tank; and always use required safety devices such as seatbelts.