Motor vehicle insurance claims can spike as much as 35 percent between December and the end of February. The reason for such a slippery slope? Poor driving conditions and motorists failing to drive to those conditions. But there are strategies drivers can employ to avoid becoming a statistic. Here, Scott McIntyre, CAA Saskatchewan's vice-president of automotive services, shares some expert tips for navigating winter roads.
Drive To Conditions
"The speed limit is set for ideal road conditions," McIntyre says, meaning police can actually ticket you for driving the speed limit in bad conditions. "If that means doing 80 km/h in a 100 km/h zone, so be it." Be smart and slow down, but don't overdo it. "There's a fine line between driving to conditions and being overly cautious," he notes.
Get Winter Tires
There is plenty of evidence proving all-season tires just don't cut it for winter. CAA recommends installing four winter tires, which stay pliable to -40 C and have tread patterns that grip ice and bite into snow. Tires marked with mountain and snowflake symbols meet specific traction requirements and are designed for severe conditions.
Be alert and keep your eyes up, looking far down the road. "You'll identify problems - snow drifts, stalled vehicles, icy patches - before they become emergencies," McIntyre says. Your eyes will also tell you very early if you're starting to slide. Knowing this as soon as possible helps you correct a slide before it becomes unmanageable.
Fix A Skid
Knowing how to fix a skid is key to safe winter driving. In any skid, look where you want to go. In a front-wheel skid, when you aren't turning as much as you'd like, lift off the gas. In a rear-wheel skid, don't lift the gas and "steer where you want to go," McIntyre adds. Lay off the brakes and slow down after you regain control.
Stay With Your Car
If you go off the road and get stuck, don't leave your vehicle, McIntyre advises. First, call CAA for roadside assistance at 1-800-222-4357, request online or via the CAA Mobile App. Then stay inside, running the vehicle intermittently to stay warm and conserve fuel. Only get out of your vehicle to clear snow from your exhaust pipe. Hold tight: Help is on the way!
For more smart strategies and winter driving tips, visit caask.ca/safety
By Kelly Taylor | CAA Saskatchewan Magazine | Winter 2020