Podcast Title: Health and Safety to Go!

Episode #: 162 – Don't Rush into Winter Driving



Introduction: Welcome to Health and Safety to Go! broadcasting from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.

Host:  Harsh winter conditions can appear out of nowhere. When they do, many drivers may get caught off-guard for driving in cold, snowy, and icy conditions. No matter how many winters you’ve driven through, it is always a good idea to take some time to prepare before heading out into the elements, keeping in mind some safe driving advice.  When planning your drive, allow for extra travelling time or delay the trip if the weather is bad. If you decide to head out onto the roads, put your seatbelt on before you start driving and keep it buckled at all times.

Be alert for "black ice" as it is just that, almost invisible and hard to spot. Black ice will make a road look like shiny new asphalt instead of the grey-white colour of pavement in winter. Drive with low-beam headlights on. Not only are they brighter than daytime running lights but turning them on also activates the tail lights. This lighting makes your vehicle more visible.

Remember to slow down.  Posted speed limits are set for ideal travel conditions. Driving at reduced speeds is the best precaution against loss of control and accidents while on slippery roads. While approaching intersections covered with ice or snow, reduce your speed. Be aware and slow down when you see a sign warning that you are approaching a bridge. Steel and concrete bridges are likely to be icy even when there is no ice on the ground surface. Bridges over open air cool down faster than roads which tend to be insulated somewhat by solid ground.

Do not use cruise control. Winter driving requires you to be in full control at all times.  Leave more distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you. Stopping distance on an icy road is double that of stopping on a dry one. For example, from around 45 metres (140 ft.) at the speed of 60 km/h, to 80 metres (over 260 ft.) on an icy road surface.

On multi-lane roads, stay in the right-hand lane except when passing, and use turn signals when changing lanes. Be patient and pass other cars only when it is safe to do so. Steer with smooth and precise movements. Changing lanes too quickly and jerky steering while braking or accelerating can cause skidding.

Keep a safe distance back from snow plows, and salt/sand/anti-icing trucks. The best road conditions are behind the plow. Never drive beside or pass a snow plow due to the whiteout conditions and ridge of snow created by the plow.

If your car starts to skid it’s important not to panic. Look where you want your vehicle to go and steer in this direction. If your vehicle starts to skid while braking, take your foot off the brake. Do not accelerate.

When you're driving and not skidding, on a slippery road, the way to brake depends on the type of brakes your vehicle has. If you don't have anti-lock brakes, use the heel-to-toe method repeatedly until you come to a full stop. This method means keeping your heel on the floor and using your toes to press the brake pedal firmly just short of locking up the wheels, releasing the pressure on the pedal, and pressing again in the same way. This action is repeated until you come to a full stop. When braking with anti-lock brakes, also use heel-and-toe method, but do not remove your foot from the brake pedal until the vehicle comes to a complete stop.

However, using winter tires and driving at a reduced speed are more important factors that determine a vehicle's stopping distance.  Winter driving can be treacherous; however, if you follow these tips and take it slow you’ll be more likely to arrive at your destination safe and sound.

For more information on winter driving including preparing your vehicle and what to do if you’re stuck or stranded in the snow, please visit www.ccohs.ca. Thanks for listening everyone.