CAA’s Advice to Help You Drive Smarter and Safer this Winter

CAA’s Advice to Help You Drive Smarter and Safer this Winter

The arrival of colder temperatures means winter snow and ice may be here to stay. Here’s what you need to know to help you drive smarter and safer this winter.

Vehicles:

  • Oil: Make the switch to synthetic. When the temperatures drops, it won’t thicken up like conventional oil, allowing it to flow better, reduce engine wear and provide easier start-up in winter.
  • Wipers and Fluid: Replace worn-out blades. Fill it up with winter-grade washer fluid – it won’t freeze in the reservoir and damage hoses during below-zero temps.
  • Block Heater: Check it with a block-heater tester before frigid conditions set in. Make sure you don’t have any cracks or tears in the cord. Always plug your vehicle in when the temperature falls below -15°C.
  • Battery: The battery is your vehicle’s lifeline. Cold conditions can weaken it and cause it to fail. Check it often and have it charged or changed if necessary.
  • Battery Tender: When leaving your vehicle parked for an extended period, a battery tender will keep it charged at the proper storage voltage.
  • All-Weather, 3 Season and Winter Tires: 3-season (a.k.a. all-season) tires work well in spring, summer and fall. But all-weather or winter tires are best for driving on snow and ice as the rubber designed for snowy and icy conditions will perform better than all-seasons. The deep tread design provides up to 50% better traction on winter roads. Rubber in all-seasons start to lose elasticity and harden at around 7 C, reducing its ability to grip the road.
  • Tire Pressure: When the thermometer goes down, so does your tire pressure. Even though most vehicles have a Temperature Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), it’s a good idea to check the tires at least monthly (don’t forget the spare) or more often during the colder temperatures.
    If you’re not sure if your vehicle is winter-ready, have it checked by a professional.

Drivers:

  • Check weather and road conditions. If conditions are poor, stay off the roads and make alternate plans.
  • Plan your route in advance. Allow extra time for travel and let others know your routes and ETA.
  • Snow and ice can triple your stopping distance. Leave more-than-normal space between the car ahead of you and use turn signals well in advance to alert drivers behind you.
  • Avoid using cruise control on a slippery road. Your tires can lose their traction trying to keep to a set speed.
  • Focus on smooth braking and steering in slippery conditions. If you jerk the wheel or slam the brakes, your tire treads could lose traction with the road and start sliding.
  • Don’t crowd the plow. When you encounter a snow plow on the highway, your visibility may be limited.Slow down and drive with caution. Legislation requires that motorists slow to 60 km when passing a snow plow with lights flashing whether the snow plow is in operation or pulled over to the side of the road. (courtesy of Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure). 
  • Slow down when passing tow trucks – it’s the law. Saskatchewan motorists must slow to 60 km/hour near working tow trucks with safety lights flashing on highways.
  • Pack extra clothing and gear for all occupants: Including footwear, non-perishable food, and water.
  • Carry a fully charged mobile phone and portable phone battery charger. This is a ‘must have’ for emergency use or if you need to call for roadside assistance. A properly charged phone could be your lifeline in an emergency.
  • Pack a roadside assistance kit: Including a flashlight, battery booster cables, shovel, snow brush, ice scraper, etc.
  • Drive with caution: In school zones and residential areas. Pedestrians will need extra time to cross streets due to snow and ice which also means you will need extra time to stop safely.

If you do become stranded, here are some rules to follow:

  1. Don’t panic. Keep calm.
  2. Stay with your vehicle. It will make it easier for rescuers or tow operators to find you. Know where you are so you can identify your location.
  3. The fully charged mobile phone you have with you, will come in handy to call for help.
  4. Make an SOS. Place a bright scarf or blanket in a rolled-up window to signal distress.
  5. Don’t overexert yourself. Pushing or digging out will just make you cold and tired.
  6. Stay warm. Run the engine just long enough to remove the chill; then turn it off to conserve fuel. Clear snow and ice from the exhaust pipe to prevent carbon monoxide leaking into the vehicle. 

 

For further information, contact:
Christine Niemczyk, Director of Communications | CAA Saskatchewan
306.791.4327 | christine.niemczyk@caask.ca | caask.ca 

CAA Saskatchewan serves approximately 181,000 Members, offering benefits and services through its non-profit motor club, and through its travel and insurance agencies, as well as the CAA Car Care Centre at Regina Battery Depot. CAA advocates for motorists, pedestrians and travellers, provides consumer education, supports traffic safety programs and addresses related public policy issues.

For vehicle winter inspection, visit the CAA Car Centre at Regina Battery Depot or any facility that is part of CAA’s Approved Auto Repair Services (AARS) network across the province. Roadside safety kits are available at all CAA Stores or online. For roadside assistance, available 24/7, CAA Members can call 1-800-222-4357 or request the service online and also through CAA’s mobile app.