Snow Zone

The do’s of winter driving

// Curtis Hauser
// Curtis Hauser

Every year we pretend the snow ain’t coming, but it always does. And with the few hundred traffic accidents that happened around Edmonton last weekend, it’s brought bad driving conditions with it. Check out these tips to stay safe on the roads this winter.

Adjust speed for the conditions.

“That’s number one,” says Laura True with the City of Edmonton’s Office of Traffic Safety. “Just slowing down, taking into account that when the roads are slipperier, it’s going to take longer to stop.”

Increase your following distance in traffic.

Allow some extra distance between you and the vehicle in front so that if there’s a sudden stop, everyone has the time they need to avoid rear-end collisions. Add some more distance still if you’re behind a large vehicle, as they need more time to brake.

Allow for more time to stop in general.

If you’re approaching an intersection, start slowing down well beforehand because you could have a pedestrian walk out. Or, if the light changes, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of time to stop.

Allow yourself more time for the journey.

Give yourself some extra time to get where you’re going. This way, poor conditions that slow you down will be less likely to make you rush to make it in time—which will increase the chances of an accident happening.

Clear the snow off all windows and lights.

If we get a heavy snowfall, make sure to clean your windows and lights well to help with visibility. “At this time of year not only is it slippery, icy, snowy and cold,” True says. “But if you’re travelling to work in the morning or the evening it’s also now dark.”

Keep your headlights on.

You’ll want to make sure you’re easily visible to the other drivers on the roads, too. Headlights can help with this.

Get winter tires installed.

With the roads so slippery, having some extra traction will help out a lot. Get a good set of winter tires on early.

Take extra caution on bridges and overpasses.

These areas tend to freeze up first, so pay additional attention when travelling over them. Because of the cooling effect on both the top and bottom of bridges and overpasses, black ice can form fast.

Use extra caution at the first sign of rain or snow.

Conditions will be slipperier when fresh rain or snow first starts to fall, because oil and dust won’t have washed away yet. Be careful when it first starts coming down.

Keep the radio on.

You’ll especially want to stay on top of traffic news while the roads are bad. Listen for updates to avoid getting stuck behind a bad accident.

Pull over if your visibility gets too bad.

If things are getting too hard to see, better to pull over safely and wait until things improve than to keep going and make a costly mistake.

Consider transit.

You could just avoid driving altogether. Fewer people on the roads means a lower chance of accidents too, and the city’s network of buses and LRT cover a large portion of Edmonton.

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