There might not be much snow out there now but as Albertans, we know that means absolutely nothing. In this land of vindictive, maniacal weather, drivers have to remain conscious of the fact that road conditions can change at the drop of a hat. Even winter seasons without snow offer their own brand of motoring misery, with drivers and cars alike having to contend ice build-up on road surfaces, occasional high winds, hazardous debris like gravel, and sand as well as car kryptonite, road salt. At Kentwood Ford we want you to make it through the winter months safely and we’ve taken the liberty of compiling five winter driving tips to keep you road-bound. Read on to learn about steps or precautions you can take to maximize your chances of survival on those famously unforgiving Alberta highways and backroads!
Pack an emergency kit
Even before heading out this winter, its important to make sure you’re prepared for any eventuality that might befall you on your travels. A good way to ensure that you’ll be well-equipped to take on an emergency situation (should it arise) is by keeping and maintaining an emergency kit in your car. In situations of severe weather conditions, an roadside emergency preparedness kit will help keep you safe, warm and sane. Here are a few items that you always keep in your car in the winter:
- A warm blanket
- An extra pair of clothes and shoes
- Non-perishable foods
- Waterproof matches
- A candle
- A first aid kit
- A flashlight and batteries
- Booster cables
- An ice scraper
- A snowbrush
- A snow shovel
Travel on a full tank of gas
Always fill up your gas tank before traveling in winter conditions. Getting stranded or having to pull off the road can suddenly put things in harsh perspective when faced with freezing temperatures and that monstrous little orange gas light staring you in the face. Filling up before setting off means that, in situations that require it, you’ll be able to keep your car running, and stay warm for a longer period of time.
Purchase winter tires
The expert service team at Kentwood Ford can help you with this one! When the mercury drops and the snow begins to fly, its always a good idea to consider replacing your car’s tires with specialized seasonal ones. Because they have deeper grooves and stay flexible in colder conditions, winter tires offer greater traction. This translates to greater control over your vehicle while driving on whatever nasty road toppings Old Man Winter’s decided to toss your way. Regular tire maintenance is important too; always check and maintain your tire pressure, including your spare tire.
Match your speed to road conditions
Sounds like common sense? It should be, but some people always need reminding. Driver’s in Alberta ought to know that it’s only safe to travel the posted speed limit in normal road conditions. In order maintain control of your vehicle in dangerous conditions, its imperative that motorists slow down and adjust to a speed that’s appropriate for the road surfaces they’re riding on. This’ll not only keep you safe, it’s a legal obligation. You can be charged with a traffic offence if you’re apprehended driving at speeds that exceeded what the road conditions allow for. Avoid the penalty. Just be smart.
Watch for black ice
Ah yes, the true villain of winter. Black ice is a thin coating of transparent ice that blends into asphalt. Not only is it a hazard then, but it’s also managed to camouflage itself too. That’s why its so dang dangerous; black ice is incredibly hard to spot. Avoid slipping on black ice by slowing down as you approach intersections, bridges, and ramps; these areas are usually prone to black ice buildup.
Keep it together!
We hope that you’ve found at least some of this information helpful; now you’ll be able to take on Alberta’s savage winter driving conditions with the knowledge and confidence you need to stay out of trouble and to adapt if you do end up in a sticky situation. Staying calm and patient in drive in hazardous conditions is paramount to travelling safely; focus on cautious, defensive driving and you’ll be able better protect yourself and your loved ones. Of course, if you ever have questions, concerns, or are simply in need of some winter service for your vehicle, you’re always able to contact the friendly experts at Kentwood Ford.