In the GTA it has been a somewhat mild winter, but it's not over yet! There haven't been too many winter storms this year, so your winter driving skills may have lapsed a bit. Here are some reminders to help you through the next storm or if you plan on heading north for the weekend.
- Make sure your car is winter-ready: keep your gas tank full, top up your window washer fluid (making sure it is effecitve for sub-zero temperatures) and make sure you have an ice scraper/snow brush in the car. It goes without saying to most in Ontario that you should have four winter tires on your car (you’re even eligible for an auto insurance discount if you use them!).
- For longer drives or if you're heading out of the city, pack a winter survival kit. Your kit might include: gloves, jumper cables, a small shovel, a first aid kit, sand or salt, a blanket, flashlight and/or torch, candles, safety vest, water bottles and non-perishable energy foods.
- Check weather and road conditions for the route you'll be taking. Choose the route you'll take ahead of time and check the weather forecast to make sure you know what to expect before you hit the road. Of course, you should drive more slowly and give yourself extra travel time to get to your destination.
- Before you set off, be sure to clear snow and ice from your car. Make sure you can see clearly, that your windows are not fogged up, and that you have even cleared the snow from the roof of your car (so that it doesn't blow off into someone else's windscreen on the highway).
- Keep a safe distance behind snow plows and avoid passing them, if possible.
- Avoid using cruise control - it is easier to lose control on slippery roads if you are cruising. Steer gently on curves in the road and in slippery conditions. If you skid, take your foot off the brakes and steer in the direction you want to go (being careful not to over steer).
- Don't drive distracted (ever, but especially in bad weather). Put away your cell phone, make sure pets are secured, and try not to be distracted by anything else if possible.
- Keep OPP numbers handy and travel with a fully-charged cellphone. The non-emergency number for the OPP is 1-888-310-1122. For provincial highway conditions, go to www.ontario.ca/511 or call 511.
- And finally, keep our handy brochure for what to do if you're in a car accident in your glove box, just in case you need it. (We hope you never do!).