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Winter Safety Tips from a Personal Injury Lawyer (Ontario)

There was a great comedy sketch on the Rick Mercer Report last night regarding Winter Driving during the first snow fall of the season.

The Canadian husband and wife drivers experienced a sort of amnesia; such that they forgot how to drive when it snowed. These grizzled Canadians had experienced countless winters before; but driving during that first snow fall of the season was like their first time driving in snow…EVER!

The husband said that he began to lose control of the car because of the snow, and then thought it would be a good idea to drive faster, break harder, and follow other cars more closely because of the snow fall. Thinking this would be a great way to regain control of his car when it began to slide.

The wife suggested turning her lights off during the snow fall to make driving in the snow easier.

They said, that with every snow flake, their memory of Canadian Winter driving got worse and worse. It was because every snow flake was “different”, and they had to adjust their tactics for each flake. They ended up doing the exact opposite of what they ought to have done. Comedy ensued.

Much like the Rick Mercer comedy sketch, it seems like Ontario drivers forget what winter driving is all about. We see a lot of accidents during that first snow fall, and our lawyers can’t really explain why.

Did Ontario drivers forget how to operate a vehicle in the snow?

Are there that many new drivers on the road who have not experienced driving during winter conditions?

Are there that many vehicles on the road which are simply ill equipped to deal with a snow fall?

There hasn’t been an sort of scientific research or study in to this, but it might be a combination of all of the above, with some other factors.

To make sure you don’t forget what winter driving is like, here are some tips on driving safe during those wintery driving conditions:

1.Get Snow Tires early. Picking up a set of snow tires in the middle of February, after most of the winter driving season has passed is missing the point. The rubber in snow tires is designed to grip the road better when it’s cold. Ever if there isn’t a lot of snow on the ground, snow tires will do a better job holding tight to the road in the winter vs. all season tires.

2. Slow down! Our lawyers are always amazed at how fast people drive when the road conditions are less than optimal. The faster you’re travelling, the greater the impact and potential damages. The faster you travel, the less time you and other drivers have to react.  Just because you have a 4×4 vehicle, or winter tires does not give you an excuse to driver faster because your vehicle can handle the conditions.

3. Get off that cell phone! The same rules of distracted driving apply both for winter and non winter conditions. There’s no difference. I have to spell this out because some people just don’t get it.

4. Winter wiper blades rock! Ever try a pair of wiper blades designed for snow/ice? They are AMAZING! They do a fantastic job clearing snow and ice from your windshield thereby providing the driver with greater visibility. Even if you’re not planning on getting winter blades, it’s still a good idea to make sure that the blades are in good shape and not worn out such that they no longer work properly. Get your wiper blades looked at before winter hits hard.

5. Get your car serviced! Regular maintenance checks are important, particularly when the weather drops. Aside from examining your tire treads, brake pads, transmission; having a mechanic making sure that your car battery has enough power to charge up properly will save you the headache of getting a boost or even a tow in sub zero temperatures.  The proper mechanical care of your vehicle is akin to preventing an accident before it happens. Even the best driver can get in to an accident on account of a mechanical failure.

6. Join an Auto Club! Not a bad idea if you can afford it. Memberships aren’t that unreasonable. They should give you some sort of free or discounted tow, a boost when you need it, they can even change a car batter or tire on site. Not a bad idea when the weather plummets.mmdaf

7. Make sure that you’re driving with proper insurance. It’s the law! Plain and simple. Car insurance rates and benefits are constantly changing in Ontario. Don’t believe me? Read about these changes on prior entries of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog. Now is as good a time as any to give your car insurer a call, find out what sort of insurance you have in place on your vehlicle(s) and how it works. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your insurance. You may be very surprised what you hear and how benefits have been reduced significantly in the past few years. You can certainly upgrade your car insurance to make sure that you’re getting the most out of the “pre-cut” accident benefits. The increased options are well worth the expense (if you can afford them).

8. Be flexible with your driving plans. If the forecast is calling for white out conditions, or the road ways resemble ice rinks as opposed to roads; be prepared to cancel your driving plans. Get out when the roads and in better shape. Even lawyers are allowed to call the Court or other lawyers to give them the heads up that they can’t attend on account of poor winter driving conditions. This is Canada. It happens.

9. Don’t drink and drive. This tip applies to all seasons, but we see a spike in drinking and driving collisions during the Winter Holiday/New Year season. Get a designated driver. Use a taxi or car share service. Use public transit.

10. Rear Wheel Drive Vehicles NEED Winter Tires! If you drive a rear wheel drive vehicle and don’t have winter tires, you’re just asking to get in to an accident. You’re causing a safety hazard to yourself, your passengers, your fellow motorists, along with pedestrians.

We wish everyone a safe driving winter season. We also wish Toronto’s soccer team the best of luck in the second leg of their Conference Final Tonight at BMO Field. We’re all behind you!


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