It’s that time of year again, the leaves are changing, the temperatures are dropping, and it’s just a matter of time before the roads are covered in snow and ice. Some of you might be excited by the impending winter weather and the rest of you are already counting the days until spring. However, regardless of your excitement levels we all need to make sure our vehicles and driving habits are adjusted to appropriately reflect the conditions. Our winter driving guide for Edmontonians will lay out the basics to make sure your day-to-day driving is as safe as possible, even in some inevitably treacherous conditions.
Do You Really Need Winter Tires?
The short answer is yes, your AWD or 4×4 vehicle might help you accelerate faster and create the illusion of exceptional control but stopping times can still be dangerously long. Regardless of your vehicle’s drivetrain you’re going to be much safer on winter tires that are specifically designed to handle winter temperatures and road conditions. You should also note that colder temperatures will compress the air in your tires, so unless you’re using Nitrogen you’ll want to check that your tires stay properly inflated to ensure safe driving and optimal fuel-efficiency.
Winterize Your Vehicle
Your tires aren’t the only thing that are impacted by cold and snowy weather. We recommend that you book a winter service inspection to make sure your battery, hoses, fluids, brakes, heater, defroster, and wiper blades are inspected and cold-weather ready. A winter battery or battery blanket can help you avoid a car that won’t start in the morning, you’ll need fluids that don’t freeze, and winter wipers are more suitable for maintaining your visibility in extreme conditions.
Drive Smoothly and Slowly
We’re not suggesting that you start driving 20 km/h as soon as the snow hits because we all know how frustrating that can be but you do need to adjust your driving habits for winter safety. Try to avoid any abrupt turns or braking and make sure you leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the one in front of you to facilitate the limited control and longer stopping times. It’s much easier to maintain control of your vehicle when you perform slow and smooth driving maneuvers. Using cruise control is not recommended during the winter months and we advocate a high level of alertness at all times.
Winter Survival Kit
The City of Edmonton website lays out a suggested survival kit that includes the following items:
- Non-perishable food
- Blankets, extra clothing and footwear
- Fuel line antifreeze
- Battery jumper cables
- Windshield scraper and snowbrush
- Shovel and traction mat, sand or kitty litter
- Candle and matches
- Flashlight and extra batteries
Before you get behind the wheel make sure you’re prepared for weather and road conditions. You can start by checking the forecast and ensuring you have the proper winter attire to stay warm in case of an emergency. Know the route you’ll be taking to your destination and check out the road reports so you can make any adjustments if necessary. Always give yourself plenty of time to get there so that you’re not rushing yourself or driving too fast in dangerous conditions.