After a green Christmas in Toronto, forecasters are expecting the first significant snowfall of the season. With the current rain/snow mix and temperatures fluctuating around zero, freezing rain is a definite possibility. Here are tips for driving in these dangerous conditions.
The first tip is, if you don't have to drive, stay home! Ice and driving don't mix, and in freezing rain conditions the roads become like a skating rink. If you've ever tried to walk across an ice rink, you know how difficult it is to avoid slipping. It’s the same with your car.
If you do have to drive, do so slowly and with extreme caution. Give your car a bit of gas, but avoid braking if possible –- this can just cause your car to skid and you will lose control of the vehicle.
Keep a large distance between you and the car in front of you. Since you want to avoid using your brakes, you will need to ease off the gas to slow your car which means your stopping distance will be much longer. The greater the distance between you and the other cars, the better.
Leave extra time. You'll need to drive more slowly, so leave extra time to reach your destination. Speeding just makes driving more dangerous for you and others on the road.
Respect the salt/sand trucks. In bad weather the salt and sand trucks will be out in full force. They are there to make road conditions safer so you are actually safer behind them then trying to pass them. Be patient!
Drive for the conditions. Snow tires and all-wheel drive vehicles can help in winter conditions, but you still need to drive with caution. Don't think you can speed or fly past other vehicles –- you could end up in a collision or cause one.
Use winter windshield wipers and fluid. In freezing rain conditions, the rain can freeze immediately on your windshield, decreasing visibility. Be sure to run the front window defroster and rear window defogger to help keep the rain from freezing on the windows. Windshield washer fluid with a freezing point of at least -40 degrees can also help. Winter wipers will help keep the wipers on the glass rather than running over ice that is forming.
Drive with snow tires. If you have not yet installed your snow tires, call your local garage and make an appointment! While they are designed for snow, they do have more grip in freezing conditions.