Ok, either you have looked at the weather forecast or even just looked out the window and well old man winter has well – arrived!
Driving in winter conditions, first off what does this have to do with an accounting firm? First off, we care about the safety of our wonderful clients as well as making sure that that hard-earned money is not wasted on insurance deductibles or vehicle replacement when you decide to get behind the wheel!
Take a moment and go through the checklist:
- Even though I (Andre) are sitting in the BC Interior where about 60 cm of snow is outside. Of course, we have snow tires on our vehicles. But folks on the coast who think that driving in winter conditions with all-seasons is worth it – um you may have an insurance problem if you get into an accident. Snow tires are considered those who either have the Mountain Symbol, Snow Symbol or M+S lettering.
- Take a moment and either open Google Maps (Click to open) or Apple Maps (Click to open) and plan your route. ovoid hills, side streets and area's not heavily driven as plows do the highways first then secondary roads then finally side streets. A longer safer drive can turn out to be way quicker than getting stuck.
- Pack the following in your vehicle:
- Small shovel as digging out snow with your hand is not cool but very cold!
- Blanket as if you get stuck and need to wait for a tow truck, keeping warm while conserving fuel.
- Windshield fluid. Even if your car fluid is full you can easily go through it and like snow tires, windshield fluid is hard to find when the snowfall is well falling!
- Pack some snacks (something like granola or energy bars as these have a long shelf life). Put these snacks in an air-sealed zip-lock bag so that the little critters don't think you left a buffet for them when you park your car.
- If possible a small bag of sand or gravel as this is great for getting out of tricky spots. If not possible, then include a couple of old towels as this works if you are stuck – putting them under your wheel will give your traction – but use old towels as using new ones could get you into trouble when your loving spouse wants to know where the new ones went!
- Cell phone and your charger in case you need to call for assistance.
- Make sure you clear your complete car of snow. You can actually get a ticket and even be responsible for vehicle damage if your snow or ice falls off your vehicle. Make sure this also includes your lights as well it might look neat with your brake lights illuminating the snow covering them, it is not cool when you get a ticket.
- When you start from a stop, slow and steady acceleration. Don't put your foot into it as you will learn just how slippery the road is!
- When it comes to slowing down, first, coast then gear down before you brake. When it comes to braking make small braking motions instead of continuously braking as you will have better control. Also, keep in mind you may have anti-lock brakes but those do not work well in the snow and ice.
- Leave at least ten car lengths in between the car in front of your and if possible (on highways) leave the lane beside you empty just in case. If you see a nice ten-car length gap – it is not for you to change into but instead is a smart driver not wanting to meet the driver in front of them (post-accident).
- When it comes to steering, make slow steady and wide turns. Do not make sharp turns or quick turns as your vehicle will instead slide.
- Okay, folks, we all know the cell phone rules. With winter conditions even more important – leave in your pocket, purse or glovebox.
- Now some people think that just because you have a 4×4 vehicle that you can drive like it's summer, but 4×4 vehicles are heavier and well the heavier your vehicle is the longer it will take to stop! Don't believe this – ask either a truck or bus driver just how long it takes to stop their vehicles!
Here are a few more tips:
- Take a deep breath before you start your drive.
- Make sure you defrost in (front and back windows).
- Both hands are on your steering wheel.
- Leave at least double the amount of commute time.
- Turn your radio to the traffic or news channel so you get traffic updates.
- If your navigation includes traffic updates – enter your destination so that it can be updated live to move you around any accidents.
- If you see an accident while driving, rubbernecking is not cool and can cause additional accidents not to mention higher frustrations which means less concentration on driving.
- If you do not feel comfortable driving in winter conditions, don't! Instead ask a friend, take public transit or ask to work from home.
- If you need to go out make sure you limit your trips so maybe stop and pick up groceries on the way home from work.
Please drive safe! And if you see me driving in my 4×4 pickup, the ten-car gap and defrosted windows and the snow-free vehicle is just my way of keeping everyone safe and yes keeping my hard-earned money in my pocket and not being wasted on insurance deductibles.