Winter is here and we all know what that means: Snow, snow, and more snow! We’ve put together five important safety tips to keep in mind this winter season.
- When in Doubt, Plan it Out
One of the main points in driving safely is making sure that your car is regularly serviced and maintained, especially during the winter months. A good practice to adopt is to have your car serviced before the weather gets colder. This will allow a licensed mechanic to determine if you have any problems with your brakes, engine, windshield wipers, steering, or gas pedals.
It is equally important to have your car inspected during the winter months. The salt used to de-ice and melt the snow on the road can erode your car engine. This can be a serious hazard when driving. If your car begins to have engine problems and as a result, causes you to get into a car accident, you can be held liable and at fault. One way to prevent your car engine from being eroded, or at the very least have it repaired before an accident occurs, is to have it inspected and maintained by a licensed mechanic throughout the winter.
Though no one expects to get stranded or stuck during severe weather, it is critical to plan for these events. Be prepared by keeping an emergency safety kit in your car. Some items to include in your kit: food that won’t spoil such as energy bars, water, blankets, extra clothing/shoes, a first aid kit, small shovel, jumper cables, sand/salt, flashlight, and warning light/road flares. For a full emergency kit list, visit https://www.getprepared.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/sfttps/tp201002-eng.aspx
- Use Winter Tires
Although it is not required by law in Ontario to have winter tires, it is extremely important to use them during the winter months. Winter tires have deeper tread depths which allow you to have greater control of your vehicle as the tires dig deeper into the snow and have a better grip on ice.
- Have no Fear, Keep it Clear
Keeping the outside of your car free from snow and ice is key to driving safely in the winter. According to section 74(1) of the Highway Traffic Act, no person can drive a motor vehicle on the highway unless the windshield is clear for the driver to see. You might think that simply removing the snow from the windshield will provide a clear view, but what happens when you suddenly brake while you’re driving and the snow from the top of your car falls down? This could obstruct your view and result in an at-fault motor vehicle accident.
Always remember that snow falls can happen unexpectedly. Whether you are grocery shopping or doing a quick pit stop at a store, a few inches of snow can easily accumulate on your car. Always be prepared and keep a snow removal brush in your car.
- Please be Smart, do Your Part
Slow down and drive according to road conditions. Blowing snow, black ice, slush/snow covered roads can make driving dangerous. Drive slowly and leave plenty of distance between you and other vehicles on the road.
When driving on a two-lane road, if you notice yourself driving slower than other vehicles, opt to drive in the right lane. Not only is this a smart practice to maintain, it is also the law according to section 147 of the Highway Traffic Act.
If you’re having trouble steering, braking, or accelerating due to the winter weather conditions, safely pull over to the side of the road. Be sure to signal to others that you’re pulling over by turning on your indicator and then let others know that you’re stopped on the side of the road by putting on your hazard lights.
- Do Not Pass a Snow Plow
You can be fined between $150 to $1,000 for overtaking a snow plow on a highway where the speed limit is 80km/hr or faster. According to section 148 of the Highway Traffic Act, no driver can overtake a snow plow that is travelling alongside another snow plow, unless the lane that you want to overtake the snow plow in is entirely free and clear of any part of the plow.
This article is part of our series on winter safety for Ontarians. Other articles provide tips on staying safe while tobogganing and best practices for snowmobiling. Our goal is to help you avoid injury or legal issues when enjoying winter activities.
We hope you stay safe on the roads this winter. If however, you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, Campisi personal injury lawyers can help. Call us toll free at 855-351-1115.
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