I’m jinxy about driving during the first snowfall of the year, and if I can avoid it, I do.  Because every year it amazes me how many cars forget to change their driving style to accommodate the now-skating rink we’re driving atop.

When I lived in the city is was easier to avoid, but that ended when I moved to the country. So there I was last week, watching the cars around me slide and careen, the driver’s white knuckles visible from lanes away. I watched with eyes rolling out of my head, because many of these situations are avoidable.

First and foremost – slow. way. down.  It takes far longer to stop on a slippery road than a summer one, like at about 80 km/h half-a-football-field longer. So less throttle. And more far-left pedal.

Beyond that, here’s a few refresher tips on winter driving.

 

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Clean the sensors

The driving aids on new cars – lane departure systems, blind spot alerts and backup cameras –  rely on sensors.  But when did you last check to ensure they were clear of snow and sludge?  Because sensors won’t work if they can’t see!

So either start incorporating circle checks before climbing behind the wheel, or better, go back to old school driving systems, like swivelling your head and relying on your eyes!

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All-season tires are delusional

Your winter tires should have been installed long ago. This has nothing to do with road conditions but is all about temperature. At -7ºC a tire’s rubber compound hardens and loses its grip. That’s why all-season tires make no sense.

Don’t cheap out on the only part of your car that touches the road!

 

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Braking

When braking hard, stomp and hold.

That advice to pump the brakes is out-dated, stemming back from when anti-lock braking systems weren’t in all our vehicles.  To pump ABS brakes confuses them, so it’s stomp-and-hold only.

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Mind the snowplows 

Snowplows tend to travel in tandem, so when passing one be ready to encounter a second.

And remember the blades on a plow are quite long, so allow plenty of extra space before tucking back into your lane. If you clip a plow, regardless of your vehicle’s size, the plow will win every time.

 

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