Prepare for winter road conditions

Snow will soon be falling in many parts of Canada, and it’s important to get ready for slippery and sometimes unpredictable driving conditions.

“As Canadians, it’s essential that we take the necessary precautions to ensure that we and our vehicles are ready for the winter driving season,” said Marc Brazeau, President, Automotive Industries Association (AIA) of Canada. “Thinking and planning ahead can be the key to avoiding a roadside breakdown or a more dangerous situation.”

To provide Canadian drivers with resources to improve their vehicle’s safety, the AIA launched its successful Be Car Care Aware program to provide access to free information on how to improve their safety while on the road through regular vehicle maintenance and repairs (www.becarcareaware.ca). Earlier this month, CAA launched its Cold Start Contest, a campaign to remind the country’s drivers about the importance and benefits of preparing for the impending winter driving season (www.caa.ca/coldstart).

To be prepared for winter driving conditions, both the AIA and the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) recommend the following:

• Let others know your itinerary before you go out on the road.
• Strongly consider putting winter tires on your vehicle, regardless of your area’s snow accumulation. Rubber in all-season tires starts to lose elasticity and harden at around 7°C, significantly reducing the tire’s ability to grip the road. Winter tires harden at around -40°C, allowing them to maintain elasticity in much colder temperatures.
• Carry a fully charged cell phone to call a friend or roadside assistance if needed.
• Take your car into your local service technician to have it maintained for the seasonal transition. This service can include having your battery inspected for wear before the start of the season and ensuring the right grade of oil in your vehicle for optimal winter use.

Canadians should also invest the time in preparing a winter driving kit for their vehicle, according to Jeff Walker, vice president of public affairs, CAA.

According to a poll conducted earlier this year by CAA, only 36 per cent of those surveyed carried a winter driving kit in their vehicle. That means that 64 per cent of Canadians aren’t properly equipped for a winter roadside emergency.

“The absence of a winter driving kit tells us people aren’t as prepared as they should be,” said Walker. “Winter driving kits help make sure an inconvenience doesn’t turn into a tragedy.”

Suggested contents of a winter driving kit include:

• Warm winter gloves, toque and boots
• Blanket or extra clothing
• Bag of sand or kitty litter
• Small shovel
• Ice scraper and/or snow brush
• Snacks for energy
• Extra windshield washer fluid
• First aid kit
• Hard copy local map (not just a GPS unit)
• Flashlight and batteries
• Flares
• Waterproof matches
• Battery jumper cables

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