The winter driving season will soon be upon us.  With it, comes a greater risk of accidents due to road conditions.  There are several things that you can do to help lessen your risk of becoming a statistic.  Make sure you take the time to have your car prepared for the snow and cold weather.

Use a high quality windshield washer fluid, preferably with a de-icer formula.

Make sure your tires are properly inflated, and change to snow tires if you are able to.

Most importantly though, change your driving habits.

One of the leading causes of collisions in Durham Region is people running traffic lights.

No where you need to be is worth risking your life, or the lives of others by running an amber or red light.

In fact, under the Highway Traffic Act, you can be charged if you do not make the effort to stop once a light turns to amber. It carries the same penalty upon conviction as a red light charge.

Give yourself more time to get to your destination and allow for greater stopping distances at stop signs and traffic lights.

Allow yourself extra space between your car and the car in front of you in case something happens or the car in front has to stop quickly. That way you may just have the extra time required to react and hopefully avoid a catastrophe.

It seems like certain jurisdictions have mandated that if you are involved in a traffic accident, and deemed to be at fault by the officer, the charge of Careless Driving should be laid. The police use this as a catch all offence, and unfortunately, some members of the judiciary will convict on a careless driving charge, despite the fact that the charge is meant for the more serious of incidents.

Another disturbing issue that is presenting itself is people being charged for minor accidents after reporting the incident to a collision reporting centre.

Remember, you are under no obligation to provide a statement to a police officer or civilian representative at a collision reporting centre. You must report the accident if it meets the criteria as outlined under the Highway Traffic Act; however, you are under no obligation to provide a detailed statement as to your involvement.

If an officer asks you for or demands a statement, ask him or her if he/she intends on laying a charge. If the answer is yes or maybe, then you can politely refuse.

Simply stated, preparation and changing your driving habits are the best defence in avoiding an accident and facing charges under the Highway Traffic Act.

Make sure your vehicle is prepared for the cold weather and ice and snow. More importantly, slow down and give yourself extra time to reach your destination and avoid taking unnecessary risks such as running amber lights, or sliding through stop signs.

That being said, if you are involved in an accident, feel free to contact the XPOLICE office nearest you for a free consultation to review your case and determine your options.

We are here to help and take pride in our ability to provide our clients with representation that is second to none.