Preparedness key in winter driving: Const. Ken MacDonald

Amanda Jess
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NEW GLASGOW – If your new year’s resolution is to be more prepared for winter driving, you’re in luck.

Const. Ken MacDonald has a few tips for New Glasgow drivers to keep safe for the rest of the season.

“It’s all about being prepared,” MacDonald says. 

 

Prepare your vehicle: 

Clear your vehicle of all snow and ice from the windows, lights and the roof. Snow could come off the top of the car in chunks, leaving obstructions in the road for other drivers. Cleared lights increase visibility in both day and night driving.

Fill your tank with gas and windshield washer fluid before leaving for long distances. 

Ensure you have the proper tires. Make sure they’re in top order as well. “Worn or damaged tires can affect your ability to drive safely.”  

Get on top of your maintenance check. Ensure your lights and battery are in working order.

Have an emergency kit. A few of the things it should contain are: 

a blanket gloves a hat a first aid kit  a flashlight and batteries a candle snacks  a whistle  a fire extinguisher

 

Prepare yourself: 

“Expect the unexpected,” MacDonald says. Watch for pedestrians, animals, and other drivers braking quickly. Leave enough room between the vehicle in front of you and drive for the weather conditions, MacDonald warns. The biggest problems New Glasgow Regional Police encounter with winter accidents is drivers following too closely to other vehicles and going too fast for the road conditions.

Be sure to move over for snowplows too.

Find out the road conditions before you leave your home. You can call 511 for traffic and road reports, and look at Nova Scotia’s many highway cameras. 

Know your vehicle and its limitations. Don’t be over-confident with four-wheel drive. Don’t pump your anti-lock brakes. 

Be vigilant. Snow banks can create blind spots. Inch out slowly and be on alert.

 

What to do if you’re stranded:

Calm down and think.

Stay in your vehicle, safely away from passing traffic and the winter’s harsh cold. 

Don’t run your engine unless you’re sure the exhaust pipe is free of ice and snow. CO2 poisoning is a very real possibility.

If you have a phone, call for help. 

This is where your emergency kit comes in handy. It can help prevent frostbite if properly equipped.

 

What to do if you start to lose control of your vehicle: 

Skids happen when wheels start to lose traction on the road. Sudden hard braking, going too fast on a curve or accelerating too quickly are all situations that can cause the car to lose friction. To come out of a skid, look where you want to go and steer towards that spot. 

Be careful not to over-steer.

If you’re skidding in a straight line, put the vehicle into neutral or step on the clutch. 

MacDonald says there has been an increase in traffic-related collisions, but can’t say if it’s due to “out-of-the-ordinary weather events,” as many factors can play a part in accidents.

However, he notes that more freezing rain than normal makes for unpredictable road conditions. 

He also says many accidents occur during high traffic volumes.

Driving slower and leaving more space between vehicles is very important in winter driving, MacDonald says.

 

Amanda.jess@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda

Geographic location: New Glasgow, Nova Scotia

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