Keep yourself safe when driving this Winter

Just because we are going into Winter does not mean that client visits come to an end until it is warm out again.  It is important to make your sales calls and for most of us that means getting out on the road even in the Winter time when it can be a little tricky driving in snowy conditions.

Weather conditions for most of Canada and the Northern States tend to be harsh – with temperatures dropping very low, a lot of snow and ice piling up on the road and vehicles and strong, bone-chilling wind, among other winter conditions.

As much as it all affects you as a driver, we must also remember that winter weather also affects your vehicle as well.

It is important to have you and your car ready for Winter conditions.  When your car is not ready then your job as a driver becomes increasingly more difficult, because as much as you possess the necessary skills to be a safe winter driver, your car might not respond and execute every action you want with the swiftness and precision you need.

Therefore, you need to prepare your car for winter weather and do the same for yourself. Here are all the big and little things you can do to drive safely in the winter:

Get your care ready and keep it ready for Winter Conditions

  • Install winter tires and make sure they are in good condition (without or with minimal wear and tear).
  • Make sure that the wheels are properly balanced, and the car has had a recent alignment.
  • Check the battery health and if posts and cable connections are corrosion-free and screwed on tightly. 
  • Make sure fluid levels are optimal (battery, windshield wipers, oils, coolant) and low-temperature resistant. 
  • Check the exterior lights (both the bulbs and plastic covers).
  • Carry an emergency kit (jumper cables or battery booster, tire inflation kit, tire chains, shovel or spade, road flares, flashlight, extra batteries, cell phone car chargers, (electric) blanket, spare boots and change of clothes, bottled water and non-perishable foods).
  • Carry a small or foldable shovel and bag of traction sand or salt in your trunk just in case you become stuck in snow or have traction issues on ice.
  • Keep a full tank of gas – Aside from helping in reducing moisture in the fuel system, a full gas tank also adds extra weight to your vehicle to slow it down. Most importantly, you will have enough fuel for slower driving, detours and turning back if needed.

Clear snow and ice from your vehicle

  • Make sure you thoroughly clean snow off your vehicle before driving. 
  • Make sure all windows, mirrors, lights and especially the hood and roof of the vehicle have been clear, so as not to endanger the other participants in traffic. If visibility becomes poor, find a place to safely pull off the road as soon as possible to clean the snow off.
  • Snow is not the only factor on your vehicle’s windows, so make sure you clear off any frost and wait for any foggy windows to clear up before driving.

Keep yourself informed and check the weather forecast regularly

  • Make sure you know what kind of weather conditions to expect when you leave the house or office before heading out on the road.  So, keep an eye out for any Environment Canada issued warnings so you know what to expect on your travels.

Driving habits are different for different seasons

  • Fog, black ice, slush or snow-covered roads can make driving dangerous, so you need to drive according to the road conditions around you and not the estimated time of arrival your GPS gives you or the time it would usually take you to travel to your destination during other seasons.
  • Always give yourself extra time for travel and, if the weather is bad, wait for conditions to improve. Always tell someone where you are going, the route you plan to take and when you expect to arrive. If you don’t arrive on time, and people are worried about your safety, they will know where to search for you. If driving becomes too risky, turn back or look for a safe place to stop until it is safe to drive.
  • Remember to wear comfortable clothes – you need to stay warm but make sure that what you are wearing does not restrict your movement. 
  • If on a longer drive it is best to avoid using cruise control or any other driving assistance as road conditions can change quickly and it is easy to lose control of your vehicle in bad weather if you rely on cruise control.

Don’t hesitate to call for help

  • Always have a fully charged cell phone with you, especially during winter. That way you will be able to call for help in case of an emergency or in need of help.
  • If driving with someone let them make the call for you or pull over to a safe spot to place a call.

We hope that this helps you stay connected with your customers and safe on the road during your Winter sales calls.

By Jamie Barrie