Winter driving safety tips

Posted On Tuesday November 27, 2018

With the winter weather conditions now upon us, the City of Cornwall would like to remind motorists to be extra cautious behind the wheel.

“Stay alert, slow down and stay in control,” said Tommy Sauve, Safety, Training and Operations Supervisor with the City of Cornwall. “Winter driving requires some additional planning and preparation on the part of drivers, and we all have a part to play in keeping our roads safe.”

Safe winter driving is nothing more than the application of knowledge and skills combined with common sense. We all know what rain, snow and ice does to our ability to control our vehicle. By adjusting our driving to these conditions, before accident producing situations develop, we can avoid being involved in most winter accidents.

Motorists are encouraged to keep the follow points in mind for winter driving:

1. Drive according to current road and weather conditions. 
2. Keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, stay clear and do not pass snowplows.
3. Avoid situations where you may have to brake suddenly on a slippery surface.
4. Get your vehicle winter-ready with a maintenance check-up. Don't wait to have your battery, belts hoses, radiator, oil, lights, brakes, exhaust system, heater/defroster, wipers, winter tires (recommended) and ignition system checked.

Check weather and travel conditions before heading out
Don't take chances if the weather is bad. Allow yourself extra time for travel, or wait until conditions improve. When heading out on your trip, plan your route ahead of time.

1. Wear comfortable clothing that doesn’t restrict your movement while at the wheel. Keep warm clothing for getting out of your vehicle.
2. Clear snow and ice from all windows, lights, mirrors, and the hood. After starting your vehicle, wait for the fog to clear from the interior of the windows so you will have good visibility all around.
3. Pull well off of the road to make or receive a call.

Severe winter driving conditions may make you nervous, uncomfortable, or fearful. Stay off the road unless your trip is absolutely necessary. Proper preparation and the right skills will help you face the challenge of winter driving. It is critical for drivers to see and be seen in low light conditions, and when blowing snow and white-outs impair your visibility. Turn on your vehicle’s full lighting system in poor visibility.

It takes longer to stop on a slippery road. It’s important to leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle ahead. A guide to safe spacing under normal driving conditions is the three-second rule.

In a skid, it’s important to regain control of your vehicle, especially if it starts to skid sideways. To do this, decelerate by taking your foot off the brake, then look where you want your vehicle to go and steer in that direction.

Remember, look far ahead as you drive, so you can recognize hazards and have plenty of time to respond. Adjust your driving to the road and weather conditions. Slow down and avoid sudden turns of the steering wheel, and sudden braking and accelerating which could cause a skid.
In winter driving conditions, it takes all vehicles longer to stop on snow-covered roads.

Travelling at 90 kilometres per hour, the stopping distance for the average passenger vehicle on loose snow is 213 metres (697 ft.) or 54 car lengths, compared to 121 meters (396 ft.) or 30 car lengths on dry roads.

Plan for the unexpected
1. If you get stuck or stranded, don’t panic. Stay with your vehicle for safety and warmth. Wait for help to arrive. If you are in an area with cell phone service and have a cell phone, call for help. 
2. Be careful if you have to get out of your vehicle when on the shoulder of a busy road. If possible, use the door away from traffic.
3. Draw attention to your vehicle. Use emergency flashers, flares or a Call Police sign. Run your motor sparingly. Be careful of exhaust fumes. For fresh air, slightly open a window away from the wind. You may have to exit your vehicle occasionally to make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of drifting snow before running the engine.

Winter Driving Survival Kit

  • Ice scraper/snowbrush
  • Shovel
  • Sand or other traction aid
  • Booster cables
  • Road flares or warning lights
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Small tool kit
  • Extra clothing and footwear
  • Blanket
  • Non-perishable energy foods – e.g., chocolate or granola bars, juice, instant coffee, tea, soup, bottled water
  • Candle and a small tin can
  • Matches

For more information on safe winter driving please contact Tommy Sauve at

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