It’s that time of the year in the north when the birds fly south and old man winter tightens his grip which may make driving difficult in the Northwest Territories (NWT). The NT RCMP has provided these eight general tips to remind motorists of good driving habits in the winter.
“The first task starts before even getting into the car,” Plourde said. “Take the time to brush the snow from all of the windows, side mirrors, headlights and tail lights.”
Plourde says we’ve all seen those motorists who only clear a small area on the front windshield and then start driving.
“This is dangerous for them, for everyone else on the road and it’s something police will issue a ticket for if they see it,” Plourde said. “It’s also important to clear the snow from the hood and the roof.”
Plourde says If not, there is a very real chance it will blow off on the road and create hazardous conditions for anyone travelling behind.
2. Plan ahead
Before heading out, check to see what the current road conditions are and what type of weather you should expect, Plourde says.
“Motorists are also advised to make sure someone is aware of their travel plans,” Plourde said. “Especially during times of inclement weather.”
3. Drive according to road conditions
If the roads are slippery it will take more time and distance to stop. The simplest solution is to slow down.
“It is also important to leave a safe amount of distance between vehicles, especially on the highway,” Plourde said. “That way, in the event of an emergency stop, there will be more time to do so. Anyone who has ever been in a collision knows that one or two seconds makes a huge difference.”
4. Know the limits of your vehicle
Many times, motorists driving four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicles feel safer because of the improved traction and additional ground clearance.
“It’s important to keep in mind that stopping ability is not improved,” Plourde said. “Four and all-wheel drive vehicles can reduce your chances of getting stuck, but they won’t help you stop any better during slippery conditions.”
5. Weigh the importance of the trip against the current weather conditions
Even the most careful drivers can get into accidents.
“When the weather is really bad,” Plourde said. “Police often advise motorists to avoid traveling if possible.”
When it comes to winter driving, good winter tires are one of the most important investments a motorist can make.
“The rubber used to make winter tires is specially designed for cold conditions,” Plourde said. “It’s softer, which allows the tires to maintain better contact with the road.”
Plourde says the treads are designed to grip the road better by displacing slush and snow. It’s also worth noting that all-season tires are not the same as winter tires.
7. Buckle up.
Weather acts through visibility impairments, precipitation, high winds and temperature extremes to affect driver capabilities.
“A seatbelt will help keep you in your seat if the car does slip on the roadways,” Plourde said. “It will help protect you at the moment of impact.”
8. Vehicle Maintenance
Poor driving conditions, like snowy weather, make it a challenge to be out on the road in any vehicle. Making sure your vehicle is properly maintained for the Winter season is vital Plourde says.
“Ensure your windshield wiper fluid is a winter variety that will not freeze and keep it topped up,” Plourde said. “Take the time to make sure the car is running properly. Oil changes and regular servicing are important for both vehicle maintenance and vehicle safety.”
Plourde says motorists should also have a mechanic check on the condition of the battery before winter.
“If it’s old, have it replaced,” Plourde said. “Also, keep the gas tank topped up.”