There’s no shortage of bad driving habits that are dangerous and downright annoying for motorists sharing the road. These habits become even more dangerous in the winter months when road conditions are poor.
Here’s a look at some winter driving habits you should avoid.
Stop driving so quickly…
Allow extra travel time and be very careful when you brake, change lanes, make turns and take curves.
“The danger of skidding is greatest when you are taken by surprise,” said Transport Canada, advising motorists avoid forceful braking or sudden, jerking movement of the wheel.
Experts say that in a skid, always remember to look in the direction you want to go, and steer in that direction.
…and braking too hard
Skids happen if you brake too hard and one or more wheels lock, or if you press too hard on the accelerator and spin the drive wheels.
When making a turn, use your indicators. Poor weather conditions or not, indicators have a purpose and will help keep everyone around you safer on the roads.
The Ministry of Ontario (MTO) advises drivers maintain a safe following distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to avoid situations where you may have to brake suddenly. Remember, it takes longer to stop on a slippery road. Not sure what’s a safe distance? In poor weather conditions, double the two-second rule.
The two-second rule (courtesy of MTO):
1. Pick a marker on the road ahead, such as a road sign.
2. When the rear of the vehicle ahead passes the marker, count “one thousand and one, one thousand and two.”
3. When the front of your vehicle reaches the marker, stop counting. If you reach the marker before you count “one thousand and two,” you are following too closely.
Clear the snow off your car
Clear all of the snow and ice off your car before driving, including your hood, roof, windows (including the windshield), lights and mirrors. Cleaning snow off your vehicle can be a pain, but doing so prevents putting others at risk as slush and ice can fly off your car and hit other drivers or pedestrians while you drive.
If you have to drive during a snowfall and visibility becomes poor, find a place to safely pull off the road as soon as you can.
Get proper tires
Winter tires are made of special rubber compounds that improve stopping time not only in ice and snow but also cold, dry, wet or slushy driving conditions.
“The treads on winter tires improve traction by allowing the tire to rid itself of snow as it rolls, giving it a clear bite on the road,” said CAA Ontario. “Winter tires have a deeper tread pattern and are more flexible, shaving almost 40 per cent off the stopping distance compared to all-seasons.”
Experts say to look for the ‘snowflake-on-the-mountain symbol’ when shopping for winter tires as tires carrying this mark are “specifically designed to meet snow traction requirements.”
In 2008, Quebec became the first province in Canada to pass legislation requiring motorists to use a full set of winter tires between Nov. 15 and April 15.