As much as our instructors at Young Drivers prepare students for driving in severe winter conditions, collisions are part of the risk all drivers take when getting behind the wheel.
Ontario alone saw over 35,000 collisions causing injuries or death in 2018, yet, according to reports, the trends indicate that as temperatures drop, so does the number of road incidents leading to fatalities.
Due to the exodus from cities during long weekends and tedious but necessary road repairs in summer, by May, the number of traffic incidents on roads and highways start to rise. In the fall, as drivers adapt to driving in winter conditions and icy roads, collisions increase again. Despite the decrease in incidents by the time December comes around, by the number of collisions, November became the worst month to drive in Ontario in 2018.
As road conditions change with the seasons and the fall months tend to have a greater number of incidents, it is important to prepare for abrupt changes in weather such as fog or heavy rain. As you get ready to step out of the safety of your home and onto the roads, remember to follow these tips to drive safely in changing conditions.
- Keep your eyes on the road. Every year, drivers have to re-learn techniques and tricks to drive safely in winter, meaning you have to be prepared for new challenges every time you go for a ride. Remember to stay aware and check your mirrors for other vehicles around you.
- Track changes in the weather before leaving the house. With changing conditions, you may need to adapt to heavy rain, slippery roads, frost, black ice and snow. Knowing the circumstances ahead of time will help you keep the focus on the road and remain alert.
- Consider changing to winter tires as early as possible. We recommend having your tires installed as soon as daytime highs hover between 7°C and 0°C. Having winter tires available can reduce the cost of your auto insurance, so keep an eye out for discounts!
- Get in the habit of checking your tire pressure. Make sure to take a look around your vehicle before getting on the road, asfluctuations in temperature make tires expand and contract, causing tire pressure loss.
- Remember there will be reduced visibility with less daylight. As seasons change, be extra vigilant for pedestrians, bicycles or even wildlife on the roads. Pay attention to your surroundings and remember to stay alert when driving in busy neighbourhoods. Make sure your car is in top shape with clean windshield wipers, functioning headlights and a well-stocked emergency kit.
- Monitor the changes in traffic. Changing weather affects everyone. When driving in fall and winter weather it is important to watch out for slow-moving vehicles, cars turning and stopping, as well as trucks parked on the side of the road. It is always a great idea to check traffic updates on any major streets or highways in your area.
Being aware of road conditions is an important step for responsible driving and a crucial lesson that Young Drivers instructors share with students. As you prepare for your first or fiftieth winter driving around Ontario, always strive to contribute to a collision free Canada.