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tdc's Winter Driving Hints


Winter is on its way and stay safe with winter tires!

Even experienced drivers can find their nerves and skills tested by winter road conditions in Eastern Ontario.

Here are some tips to help you drive safely as the weather turns cold and nasty....

Present Eastern Ontario Road Conditions

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Your Car

Be prepared for the unexpected emergency...always carry a First Aid kit, map,  ice scraper, snow brush,  matches, candles, flashlight, warning triangles, flares, tow and battery jumping cables, folding shovel, a bag of sand, a blanket,  winter gloves, cell phone if you have one, an emergency HELP sign that you can put in the back window if you need help and make sure you carry a battery full cell phone to call 911 if needed.

A blanket is a good idea--just in case. If you have any winter clothes you don't wear anymore, especially an old pair of boots, throw them in the trunk, too.
Keep all your car's windows, mirrors and lights clear of snow and ice.

Always keep the air intake grill  in front of your car free of leaves, snow and ice.

Also keep the air intake to your heating system free of leaves, snow and ice.

Take an extra minute to clear all the snow and ice from your car. This will help avoid sheets of ice flying off the car and hitting the car behind you.

 Check that headlamps, turn signals, and tail lights are unobstructed by snow and ice.

Keep That Windshield Clean!

Canada Winter Weather Warnings from Environment Canada

Clear off the entire car, not just a little peephole in the windshield. First of all, you need just as much, if not more, visibility in poor conditions, because you have to keep your eye peeled for every other knucklehead on the road. Make sure every glass surface is clear and transparent by using a snow brush and/or ice scraper. Your side view mirrors and all lights should be brushed and cleared as well.

Install snow tires on all four wheels. In fact if you are in Quebec you must have snow tires on all four wheels if you are a resident of Quebec. Never mix radial tires with other tire types.

Add gas line anti-freeze to the fuel-tank when refueling in extremely cold weather.

          Get ready for harsh winter driving weather:

Protection Freeze-up Protection Boil over Protection Corrosion Protection
Minimum 50% anti-freeze
50% Water
-34ºF +265ºF Exceeds all ASTM and SAE standards for corrosion protection
Maximum 70% anti-freeze
30% Water
-84ºF +276ºF

By the way, this is very important. If the stuff freezes, it expands, and it's bye-bye engine block.

If your coolant hasn't been changed in several years, get the cooling system flushed. The rust inhibitors in antifreeze break down over time and need to be renewed every two years. Plus, draining out the coolant and refilling the system removes dirt and rust particles that can clog up the cooling system and cause problems in winter and summer.

Think about adding a block heater to your engine. That's a small electric engine heater that plugs in at night. And for less than a hundred dollars you can be virtually guaranteed that your car will start, even on the coldest of mornings. A side benefit of this is that you'll have instant heat in the morning. Actually, this might be the main benefit as far as your tush is concerned.

Your Trip

                 Ontario Weather Page

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Snowplow Plowing the Shoulder of Hwy #401

Normal Winter Driving Tips

Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
Carbon monoxide quickly builds up in enclosed areas and it cannot be sensed by your nose. 

Always wear your safety belt.  Everyone in the vehicle must wear seat belts or restraints.  Don't forget kids don't go in seat belts after all -- but in weight- and height-appropriate restraints and not in the front seat, etc.  ( For details Transport Canada Road Safety )

Start out slowly in the lowest gear recommended by your vehicle's manufacturer.

Watch for hazardous road conditions. Take extra care when driving on icy roads and watch out for hard to see patches of ice (black ice). Especially in shady spots and bridges.

Keep a safe distance of at least five seconds behind other vehicles and trucks that are plowing the road.

When there is snow on the ground and the sun is very bright - wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and prevent excessive eye fatigue.

Avoid driving when you are tired.

Always maintain a safe following distance between your car and the vehicle in front. It takes a greater distance to stop on ice and snow.

Don't pass a snowplow or spreader unless it is absolutely necessary.
Treat these as you would emergency response vehicles.

Don't park along the street. Snowplow drivers can't fully clear a road if cars are in their way 

Always maintain a safe following distance between your car and the vehicle in front. It takes a greater distance to stop on ice and snow.

Every car has different handling characteristics. You should know what your car can and cannot do in the snow. You should know if it has antilock brakes and traction control, how they work and how they help. In fact, you should practice using these features in an empty parking lot before you have to use them on the roads. See your owner's manual for details.

When driving in the snow, do everything slowly. Even with good coolant, snow tires, traction control, all-wheel drive and the bag of Doritos in the trunk, keep in mind that driving in snow - sleet and ice is very treacherous. And even if you maintain control of your car, not everyone else will. So, don't ever get lulled into a false sense of security. Do everything slowly and gently. Remember, in the snow, the tires are always just barely grabbing the road. Accelerate slowly and gently, turn slowly and gently and brake slowly and gently. To do this, you have to anticipate turns and stops. That means, what? Going slowly and leaving plenty of distance between you and other cars. Rapid movements lead to skids and loss of control.

If you're nervous about driving in winter, consider spending some time practicing. Go to an empty parking lot and try sending the car into a little skid on purpose. Slam on the brakes, then practice turning into the skid and see what happens--and practice until you're comfortable regaining control of the car. Doing this in a large, empty parking lot allows you the luxury of skidding without ending up flat on your back, looking up into the eyes of several ambulance personnel and police. The more comfortable you are maintaining control and regaining control, the better a winter driver you'll be.

Drive economically - use a light foot on the accelerator pedal.

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Driving In Extreme  Low Visibility Winter Conditions

If you must go out when the conditions are poor, take a friend with you.   Four
eyes are better than two anytime, and if you get yourself into trouble two people
are usually better to find solutions rather than one.

When encountering whiteout, blizzard conditions or freezing rain.

                      Slow down immediately !

Try to get off the highway to a safe area until the visibility and road conditions are better.

If you are on the 401, 416, or 417 highways ..and your visibility is limited because of passing transports,
blowing snow, freezing rain,  etc ---  get off and drive slowly on a secondary road...

They are a lot less hazardous and you can drive slowly without cramping any yahoo's style.
You have no big transports to contend with and if you do slide into a ditch...there is usually
houses around where people are willing to let you use a telephone to call for help.

Turn on your four way flashers and proceed slowly with a lot of caution
Put on the window wipers and front and rear window defrosters

Watch the rear view mirror for vehicles who might rear end you.
Do not use high beams as they only reflect the snow and make it worse.

Do not use the cruise control because if and when the tires slip it causes
cars to accelerate and you will lose control of the car.

Watch for cars that might just suddenly appear in front of you.
And roll down your window to hear if there are cars coming!

Drive as if there were eggs on the bottom of your feet--step on the gas
and the brake pedals so gently that you don't break the eggshell.

Clean your headlights - You will be surprised how much more light they give when they are clean.

  Good Luck !

p.s. Drive Safely


Did You Know?

That in Eastern Ontario the first two words spoken by 98 % of  drivers
whose car just went into the ditch after sliding on the ice or snow covered road is

"Oh Shit...!!! "


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