Keep sliding on the slopes, not on the highway
Well, winter has finally showed its frozen face in the GTA. For many people, that brings a welcome chance to ski, skate, sled and slide.
However, these types of activities should be confined to the slopes and rinks, and not practiced on the roads.
One of the best ways to avoid slipping and sliding in a vehicle is to improve the point of contacts with the road. For many motorists, that means selecting new tires with improved tread grip.
Whether you opt for a full set of snow tires or hope to skate by with the convenience (but less grip) of all-season skins, here are some tips to help with slippery driving conditions you might run into.
• Match your speed to the current conditions. If conditions are challenging due to a slippery road surface or reduced visibility, decrease speed. A slower driving speed allows more time for a necessary response.
• Additional factors to consider when adjusting speed are the condition of your vehicle, its tires and your driving skills. Keep in mind the posted speed limits, and understand 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. Sometimes, taking your foot off the accelerator and allowing the vehicle to naturally slow without using the brakes is best.
• Be alert to other traffic. Maintain enough distance between your vehicle and the one ahead of you. If someone else seems to be following too closely, perhaps slow down to allow them to pass — rather than speeding up to maintain distance between vehicles.
• If visibility is poor, remember to use your lights. This helps others see you when approaching or following. Always turn on your lights when your windshield wipers are operating.
• Set the vehicle interior to a comfortable temperature. This can be a challenge when wearing heavy winter clothing, but it is imperative to be comfortable when driving. Comfort includes keeping the windows free of frost, ice and snow.
• Be as smooth as possible. Avoid sudden braking and steering responses. Always signal early when turning or stopping, in order to alert approaching or following drivers.
• Avoid over-confident driving, and avoid over-estimating your vehicle’s ability to stop simply because it is equipped with anti-lock brakes, 4-wheel-drive, traction control, winter tires 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.
Preparation is the key for winter driving.