Welcome to November. It was only last weekend that record high temperatures were being set in cities and towns across the Island and the province. Turn the page on the calendar, and voila: snow warnings. Yes, it is the season, and with that comes the annual plea to drivers to take extra caution on the roads. The winter tire regulations have been in effect for a month now. All tires must have the three-peaked mountain and snowflake symbol, and/or the M+S (mud and snow) symbol, with at least 3.5 millimetres of tread.
Better yet are winter tires. While the snowflake/M+S is the minimum requirement (you could face a $121 fine, and/or be turned away from your destination without them), anyone who has ever owned a set of winter tires will attest that is the safest option. That said, regardless of the tires under your car, the most important adjustment for the impending conditions is an attitude adjustment. The best tires are not going to help if you don’t adjust your driving habits to the conditions.
Give yourself extra time and space. Think defensively, particularly if you have winter tires. Remember, those tires give you the ability to stop more quickly. That’s the big advantage; not that they allow you to drive faster.
As for space, give yourself that extra car length from the car in front of you while driving, and just as importantly, when stopped in traffic. You can’t control what the person in the vehicle behind you is going to do, but if you have some extra space, when they start slipping because their tires aren’t gripping, you can move up and give them extra room. Most winter rear-enders could be avoided with an extra 10 feet.
Another piece of equipment integral to this time of year is lighting. The advancements in headlights on newer vehicles is incredible, but older models still falter in that regard. Go to your local car dealership or parts store and find out whether an upgrade is available for your model. The pedestrians and cyclists of the Capital Region will be grateful.
Most of all, stay safe out there.