Winter is a rough season for driving in Ottawa.
In fact, car accidents in Canada rise between 3.1 – 4.7% during the months of December and January: also known as peak winter months.
So when you’re on the road from November to March, watch out for these winter driving hazards and keep yourself and others safe.
1. The Classic Ice and Snow
This is a classic winter driving hazard that everyone knows about: snow, ice, and black ice.
These 3 problems are unique to colder temperatures, and can cause a lot of problems for drivers.
If you encounter snow, ice, or black ice, these winter driving tips will help you navigate the road safely >
2. Poor Visibility
Winter is one of the worst seasons for visibility. You’ve got snowflakes falling, the sun setting earlier than ever, and slushy spray from other cars coating your windshield every other morning.
Even on crisp, gorgeous days when the sun is smiling down on us, the snow can be blindingly bright, making it difficult to see.
To ensure you always have the best visibility possible, you should have the following things ready to go before winter:
- Your headlights – you always see one or two people driving with a headlight out every season, but it’s especially important to not be that driver in the winter. You need to be as visible as possible.
- Winter windshield wipers – it’s important that your windshield wipers are manufactured for colder temperatures.
- Winter windshield washer fluid – all windshield washer fluid is not made for our freezing cold winters. Your local gas station should have windshield washer fluid that won’t freeze above certain temperatures (for example, -40℃). Make sure you frequently top up your windshield washer fluid, and keep a spare jug in your car just in case.
- Apply Aquapel – with Aquapel, you can actually use less windshield washer fluid, as this solutions helps repel water, sleet, and snow from your windshield as you drive. We can give you a perfect application >
- Sunglasses – the glare from the sun on snow make make for a pretty Christmas card, but it’s awful for your eyes and your safety on the road. A good-quality pair of sunglasses will reduce glare and make it more comfortable (and safe) for you to drive on sunny winter days.
3. A Dying Battery
We’ve all been there – going out to our car only to find that our battery has died a tragic death. This happens a lot in the winter specifically because of the cold temperatures and the age of the battery.
It’s a good idea to have a jump starting kit in the car with you, so that you can recharge the battery yourself.
Before winter hits with a vengeance, you should bring your car in for a thorough tune up. We’ll inspect the battery and make sure it’s in the best possible shape for winter.
4. Wheels with No Traction
There’s no getting around it: you need winter tires in Ottawa to drive safely. Without them, you’re putting yourself and other drivers at risk.
But even if you have winter tires, you need to make sure the tread is up to the task. As the tires age, the tread wears down: eventually it won’t grip winter roads as well, and could be safety hazard.
5. Rapid Changes in the Weather
Mother Nature is fickle – we can have sun one minute and rain the next. The same is true in the winter, but with a greater chance of blizzards.
Driving in poor weather is not recommended – but we also know that it’s not entirely avoidable.
Before you get behind the wheel, make sure to check the weather for the day. This will keep you from getting caught off-guard by a rapid change, and even help you plan your driving so you don’t have to be out during a bad spell.
6. The Detrimental Effects of Road Salt
Salt is rough on the undercarriage of your car, but it can make a huge difference when we’re driving on icy roads.
However, if left unchecked, salt/spray buildup on your car and undercarriage can corrode the finish of your car. While it may be a pain in the neck, we do recommend frequently cleaning your car to keep this from happening.
If you’re not entirely sure how best to keep your car clean during the winter, or want the professional touch, bring your car in for a thorough car detailing. Not only will we remove salt spray from your car’s exterior, but we can help keep your car’s interior clean as well.
7. Inexperienced Drivers
Inexperienced winter drivers can be one of the biggest hazards on the road. If someone has never driven in Ottawa’s winter conditions before, or doesn’t take the proper steps to drive safely, it’s putting you at risk.
Even the most experienced drivers can benefit from some extra lessons. Many driving schools have winter driving courses that you can take to better prepare for the more challenging driving conditions.
As always, one of the best ways to stay safe on the road is to adjust your speed. It doesn’t matter if people pass you – what matters is you’re going a speed where you feel safe and in control.
Remember to Restock Your Emergency Road Kit with Winter Supplies
Before the first snowfall, make sure to restock your emergency road kit and add a few things for winter. Specifically:
- Winter hat, gloves, and scarves
- Sand, salt or gravel: this will make it easier to get out of a slippery situation should you get stuck.
- A small shovel – because you never know when a plow may go by.
- Extra blankets.
- Hand and foot warmers.
- Extra snack or protein bars.
- Extra clothes, including sweaters and socks – the more layers you have, the better.
Greet Winter Head-On with Bemac
Be 100% prepared for winter this year by coming to Bemac first. We’ll perform seasonal maintenance and put on your winter tires, so you can greet winter-head on.