By: John McLeish and Yana Banzen
March break is around the corner and many of us in Ontario will be driving up north with our families to enjoy the last days of the skiing and snowboarding season. A word of caution is in order. Slippery, slushy roads create dangerous conditions for drivers. While snow tires make driving in these conditions safer, having snow tires on your vehicle may make you believe you are safer than you actually are.
Here are some safety tips to remember in order to prevent accidents on slippery roads:
- Make monitoring the weather conditions during winter part of your morning routine. Being aware of what’s ahead of you will help you be more prepared;
- Pump the brakes if you notice that your car is sliding. Braking hard will cause the wheels to lock up. Sliding wheels are uncontrollable – steering won’t change the direction of your car if the wheels are sliding;
- Avoid sudden movements. Quickly turning your tires, accelerating, or braking can cause you to lose traction.
- Drive slower. Everything takes longer on snow, ice and slush-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, and turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slower than you would in dry conditions;
- Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Allow yourself more space to slow down;
- Don’t drive when you are fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before driving in the winter reduces driving risks;
- Do not use cruise control when driving on a slippery road. You need to be in full control at all times;
- Avoid hills or other dangerous roads during icy conditions;
- If you hit black ice – the general rule is to do as little as possible and to allow the car to pass the black ice. Do not hit the brakes and make sure to keep the steering wheel straight. If you try to steer in the opposite direction from where the car is going you risk skidding or spinning out.
If you follow the above driving rules, you will significantly reduce the risk of having an accident.
If you do have an accident and are injured, it may not be your fault.
Municipalities have responsibilities for plowing, sanding, and salting roads and keeping them clear and safe. Often municipalities do not live up to their responsibilities. If you feel you have been driving safely, and have an accident, and are seriously injured, consult with a lawyer. Most lawyers will not charge anything for an initial interview. Some will even hire a winter road conditions expert and have the expert conduct a preliminary investigation at no charge.