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Health & Safety: safe winter driving

Don’t take chances with winter driving

February 8, 2018  By By the CCOHS

As if driving wasn’t perilous enough at the best of times, welcome to another season of winter roads. You can’t control the weather, but you can adjust to it by preparing yourself and your vehicle for the worst of winter and the white stuff, and ensuring you stay safe.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) offers the following safety tips for winter drivers.

Keeping your vehicle in good technical repair reduces the chances of a mishap or disaster.
Have your electrical, exhaust, heating/cooling, fuel and braking system thoroughly checked. Make sure the vehicle is equipped with snow tires and ensure windshield wipers are in good condition.

When winter hits, protect yourself from carbon monoxide exposure by keeping the exhaust pipe clear of snow and checking the system for leaks. Don’t let the fuel level get too low, and always keep an extra container of antifreeze – rated for the coldest temperatures – in your vehicle.


Pack a winter driving kit.
Winter driving is less stressful when you’re equipped for the worst. Your winter driving kit should include a bag of sand, salt or kitty litter, traction mats, a snow shovel, a snow brush and ice scraper, warning devices such as flares or a “Call Police” sign, and fuel line de-icer. Also, in case you’re ever stranded in a cold vehicle, keep a blanket and extra clothing on hand, including a hat, wind-proof pants, gloves and warm footwear, as well as snacks, water and the usual drivers’ aids – first aid kit, road maps and booster cables.

In the event that you ever get stuck or stranded in the snow, there’s no need to panic, especially if you have properly prepared. Turn on flashing lights, bundle up, run the car engine about 10 minutes every hour to provide heat, and stay awake. (Make sure your exhaust pipe is not blocked.) An unheated car can be like an icebox, so focus on staying warm and dry.


Get ready for the road.
Plan before heading out. Decide on your travel route in advance and then check the road and weather conditioners for that route. Avoid driving if you are fatigued. Allow plenty of time for your journey, and let someone know where you’ll be travelling and when you expect to arrive.

Visibility is key to safety on the road, so take the time to warm up your vehicle to reduce condensation on the windows, and remove any snow and ice that may reduce your visibility. Don’t forget your cell phone, if you have one, and your sunglasses.

Dress warmly and comfortably, but, if you decide to add or remove a layer, don’t do it while driving. Pull over and stop the vehicle.

Drive carefully.
It’s important to drive safely and responsibly in any weather, but the winter requires extra caution. That means slower driving, heightened alertness, and twice the stopping distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Slow down when approaching a bridge because it can be icy, even when the roads are not.

You can survive the winter drive!


The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) promotes the total well being of workers in Canada by providing information, training, education, systems and solutions that support health and safety programs and injury and illness prevention.     www..ccohs.com

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