As the holiday season comes to a close and we prepare to go back to work, there are measures we can take to return safely. We should take time to assess any risks that may become present and discuss ways to protect ourselves against potential hazards. When we are prepared for coming situations, we will be able to handle them quicker and in a safe manner. Know the hazards and have a plan, lets all stay safe while commuting this winter.
Use caution and be aware of any potential hazards while on the road, this includes other drivers and roadways. There are many different winter driving hazards to look for, which is why it is so important to be fully aware of your surroundings. Hazards may include:
- Slippery surfaces – reduced traction, reduced starting and stopping abilities.
Watch for ice patches and pay attention to road and weather reports.
- Reduced visibility – from reflections, shorter days, or blowing snow.
Fresh snowfall can be hazardous as it can blow around and hinder vision. Be aware of any fresh snow on top of your vehicle or on the roads.
- Hazards covered by snow – ex: holes, rocks, ice.
Roadways and paths may have hazards that you can’t even see. Watch for other drivers as they may dodge or break for hazards or warn you of hazards ahead.
Planning for Potential Hazards
Always maintain good vehicle function, especially in the winter. During these months snow and ice can build up and can cause breaks, cracks, and rust. Before driving, take a walk around to see if there are any changes you notice on your vehicle. Putting on winter tires, ensuring you have the correct tire pressure and optimal fluid levels, and letting the vehicle warm up before driving are all good practices and habits to keep. Simple vehicle maintenance could save you and others on the road.
- Good tires are necessary when driving in winter conditions. Having winter treads increases traction, meaning better acceleration, handling, and breaking times. If you hit ice remember not to make sudden movement, remain calm and steer in the direction you want to go. Take your foot off the gas and slow down as much as possible before pressing on the breaks to avoid skidding. Remember that speed limits are set for clear road conditions, when driving in winter it is important to lower your speed and give yourself extra time to reach your destination.
- Take the time to defrost or scape your vehicle windows before driving. A few extra minutes before leaving could make all the difference in visibility. Snow and ice surfaces are reflective and can cause reduced visibility, bring sunglasses while driving in order to minimize glare. Remember to clear all the snow off the vehicle as this can blow off and be a danger to you and other drivers or pedestrians.
- Be aware of any bumps on the road, it could be solid ice or other hazards. Stay focused and slow down on the road. Avoid cruise control and following other vehicles closely in snowy and icy conditions as this will reduce your reaction time. Keep cautious of potential hazards on your path – both visible and covered.