Whether it is whiteout conditions from falling snow, mechanical problems due to extreme low temperatures or black ice slicking the city streets, there are a lot of dangers that are associated with winter driving. Even if we are able to drive well in snowy conditions, we often have little control over the actions of other drivers and the elements.
Winter driving is, nevertheless, a fact of life in Canada, so it is important that we all take steps to stay safe on the roads. One of the first steps to doing this is making sure that you have auto insurance in Edmonton. You can also take steps to increase winter driving safety by preparing your vehicle for winter, preparing for emergencies, reducing potential dangers while driving, and ensuring that your car insurance policy satisfies your needs as a driver.
Preparing Your Vehicle for Winter
One of the first steps you can take happens long before the first snowfall. Consider having your vehicle thoroughly examined by an auto mechanic and have snow tires installed. This appointment should include checking the battery, ignition, brakes, spark plugs, and tire depth and pressure. Ensure that your tire valves have caps to keep out ice or snow. Get windshield protection by installing winter wiper blades and filling up your windshield-washer fluids. Also ensure that you regularly top up antifreeze and transmission and brake fluids as needed to ensure your vehicle is in good working order when the snow begins to fly.
Just as we can take steps to prepare the vehicle for winter, we can also prepare ourselves for emergency situations, including when there are quick changes in driving conditions.
A car emergency kit should always be carried with you in your vehicle. That kit should include supplies for yourself and your car, such as a snow brush, ice scraper, snow shovel, blankets, a flashlight with extra batteries, hazard markers or flares, a candle and matches, granola bars or other non-perishable high energy food. You should also have the contact information for road side assistance, such as from CAA or a local towing company, booster cables, sand or salt or regular cat litter, and you may want to have windshield-washer fluid and antifreeze, as well as a toolkit.
In case of emergency, it is important that someone know where you are at all times. Bring a cellphone with you so that you can let your loved ones know what occurred, where you are and contact emergency services or a towing company if necessary. In case of cellular problems, it is always a good idea to let someone know where you will be going and your route.
Preparing for Each Drive
Before you leave your home, there are steps you should take before every drive. Try to avoid driving while you are fatigued as this increases the risk of accidents. Also check the local weather and road conditions before committing to go out. Even without accounting for the wind chill effect Edmonton saw temperatures as low as -35.8 degrees Celsius last winter. Try to avoid unnecessary travel in adverse conditions and leave extra time if you must travel. Make sure you are warmly dressed before getting into the car and ensure that you have blankets in the vehicle.
Be aware that black ice is most common at moderate winter temperatures between -4 and +4 degrees Celsius. It is particularly prevalent on bridges and overpasses. Bring a map with you and plan your route to ensure you arrive safely at your destination.
Before getting into your car, remove all snow from your vehicle. Never warm up the vehicle in an enclosed area, such as an enclosed garage. Use your seat belt every time you get into the vehicle. Ensure that your gas tank is at least half full to avoid a gas line freeze-up. Also, keep a cell phone and charger with you, blankets, gloves, hats, food, water, any medications you need alongside a car emergency road kit.
Reducing Potential Dangers When Driving
When driving, always look and steer where you want to go and be aware of black ice. Accelerate and decelerate slowly as this is the best method to regain traction and avoid skidding. You should be prepared to start breaking earlier than usual for stops because it takes longer to slow down on icy roads. Avoid using overdrive and cruise control when going over slippery surfaces (wet, ice, sand). Use the map in your vehicle and take an alternative route if your primary route is unsafe due to conditions.
If you get stuck along the way, don’t overexert yourself to try to push or dig your vehicle out of the snow. If you become snow-bound outside of the city, stay with your vehicle as it provides temporary shelter, avoids you getting lost and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. When you get to your destination, if possible, avoid using the parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
Obtaining the Right Car Insurance
As part of winter driving safety, you will want to ensure that you have the car insurance protections you need to drive in Edmonton. While basic automobile insurance, including third party liability, is mandatory, there are several provisions that are optional coverages that you may find helpful, including having coverage for a rental vehicle if you get into an accident and still need transportation.
Contacting MBS Insurance Brokers Ltd. in Edmonton
At MBS Insurance Brokers Ltd., we have over 40 years of experience helping individuals obtain competitive auto insurance in Edmonton. We know the kinds of risks you face driving in winter and we can provide you with comprehensive insurance that can protect you and your vehicle in the event of an accident.