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Containing a selection of published articles from various print media.

Sheridan Sun: Drive safe in the winter months, Peel Police urge

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Canadians are a hardy lot – forged in the frigid north, we wear t-shirts in snowstorms, and scoff at weather conditions that could turn our doughy American neighbours into pillars of ice. We are a nation known for its harsh winters, so it stands to reason that Canadian drivers would be well-adapted to any road condition – but the long string of accidents along our highways shortly after the year’s first snowfall tells a different story altogether.

According to the Peel Regional Police, the faulty decisions made by drivers are the cause of all road accidents. “It is the responsibility of the driver of a motor vehicle to ensure they are operating their vehicle safely and within the allowable parameters of the Highway Traffic Act,” said Peel constable Adam Minnion. “The laws are designed to help ensure the safety of Ontario motorists. Understanding that weather conditions change during winter months, drivers need to transition their skills sets to accommodate the change and make effective and safe driving decisions.”

Proper vehicle maintenance is also key to a safe driving experience. Inspect your vehicle’s battery, radiator, and brakes each winter, and consider switching to winter tires. Ensure that your car’s fluids are topped up, including radiator fluid, windshield washing solution (rated for a minimum of -40°C)

and keep an eye on your oil level. Keep the petrol topped up as well – at least half a tank is recommended to prevent frozen fuel lines.

The condition of your own vehicle aside, another pressing worry for Canadian drivers is the competence of those sharing their highway. “The day of the first snow was nuts. I saw other drivers fish-tailing, losing control on the highway while trying to pass. There were accidents left and right,” said veteran motorist Kara Pilsudski. “I mean, I like to think I’m a decent driver, but it’s the other people you really have to worry about.”

“I had my car winterized, and it makes a world of difference in handling, braking and controlling the car,” Pilsudski added.

But what about the weather itself? While this year’s first snow did not warrant a Canadian Forces response similar to the blizzard of 1999, it certainly threw drivers for a loop. “It’s always a good idea to determine regional weather patterns the night before a commute or destination is planned, so one has an ample opportunity to prepare for potentially hazardous conditions,” said constable Minnion.

“A large part of that preparation is allowing for the appropriate amount of time, and creating a route plan – with a back-up plan, to and from your intended destination. The weather has the ability to change driving conditions at a moment’s notice and it is important first, not to drive your vehicle in excess of one’s own personal skill or ability, and to operate one’s vehicle according to the environmental conditions.”

And what if the thought of navigating icy, slush-slick highways fills you with a chilling sense of dread? The Peel Police’s recommendation is simple: stay off the roads. “If you do not feel comfortable driving in inclement weather – then don’t. A nervous, anxious or un-confident driver is a dangerous driver,” Minnion said.

So listen up, Canadians: winterize that car, bolt on those Ultra-Grip tires, and keep your heads on a swivel. Every Honda Civic that ends up in a ditch due to careless winter driving is an affront to our national identity!

This story originally appeared in the Sheridan Sun.

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Written by tomczerniawski

March 14, 2010 at 12:20 pm

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