There, I said it.
I’ve lived in Canada all my life, I grew up in the Snowbelt – the one between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay (yes, there’s more than one) – yet no winter tires. In fact, the only winter preparation I do is the under coating on my Malibu Maxx since it’s part of the warranty package we purchased when we bought the car.
I naively believe that because I live in the Greater Toronto Area, there is no point to snow tires because once it does fly, the traffic on the highways moves at a snail’s pace, and really? How much damage can be done at 10 kilometers per hour?
I don’t carry an emergency kit, because, again, I travel the highways which are jam-packed and I have a cell phone, and once the vultures come out (read: tow truck drivers), the likelihood of me sitting on the side of the road for long is pretty slim.
I know, I know… there are some people shaking their heads and maybe even their finger at me. I know it’s not right, but: Meh. I blame diving in whiteout conditions as a teenager. Now I believe I’m invincible when it comes to snow and ice, and now there is evidence to prove I’m not alone.
In a national survey released by Canadian Tire, Canadians identified their unusual winter driving habits.
- 18 per cent using kitty litter to gain traction on ice;
- more than a quarter (27 per cent) using a credit card to scrape ice off their windshield;
- 38 per cent using sandbags or weights in their trunk to prevent fishtailing, instead of installing winter tires.
Canadians take an equally peculiar approach to keeping their windshields clear, with half (50 per cent) throwing snow to clean them off and five per cent even admitting they have wrapped their vehicle in a blanket before an expected snowfall to reduce time spent with a snow brush.
I may, or may not, be guilty of at least three of the quirks listed above – the blanket covering the car not being one of them, but it does sound rather brilliant…
Don’t judge me.
My mom’s the complete opposite of me. She has about a month’s worth of food and half of her collection of duvet and quilts in the trunk of her little red car. I think I even spotted a pillow in there… in JULY. The minute the temperature dips around 0 Celsius (32F) she’s got her car scheduled to have The Snows put on.
Needless to say: she’s prepared.
My lack of preparedness drives her insane.
Did I mention she’s my insurance broker? Heh.
I attended Canadian Tires Winter Driving Event (#CTWinterDriving) a couple weeks ago (okay, the beginning of December, I’m a little behind) where we discussed the importance of winter preparation. Needless to say, I had little to contribute to the conversation, except tweets about my Mom and her duvet.
I think I even got the stink eye when I scoffed at the idea of snow tires in Toronto…
As important as winter preparation is, there are quite a few people who think similarly to me: you’re only driving a short distance; you’re sticking to the highways which will be stop-and-go anyway; it’s too expensive.
Thousands of motorists are involved in preventable accidents every year, particularly during the winter months which, in turn, burden us all by ways of increased usage of emergency services, lane blockages/ highway closures, and increased insurance rates.
Not pretty, right? And so, through public awareness, a collation of credible, influential, Ontario-based organizations representing health, safety and industry partners hope to help raise awareness of the importance of being prepared for winter driving, and to encourage the development of incentives that support safer winter driving.
Incentives? Yes. The collation is hoping to encourage the Ontario Government to provide tax rebates to those who equip their cars with winter tires and prepare for winter driving. (That should help out with the expensive part, no?)
Just following these simple five steps provided by Canadian Tire, we can help reduce the number of accidents on our roadways and get home safe.
Install winter tires
All-season tires start losing traction at 7 degrees Celsius, so replace them with winter tires with larger grooves and tread blocks that grip the road better to avoid sliding in cold, snowy, icy or slushy conditions.
See and be seen
Visibility is key to safe winter driving. Replace wiper blades with ones that are specially designed to resist snow and ice build-up, shine and restore dull or cloudy headlights, fill up winter washer fluid and inspect all exterior lights to improve route visibility and make your vehicle visible to other drivers.
Top up fluids
Changing over to seasonal fluids and keeping vehicle fluids topped up is essential to safe and reliable winter driving. For example, synthetic oil formulated for cold conditions protects your car’s engine, ensures good engine start-up and circulation and helps minimize winter wear and tear.
Don’t be like me and wait until the gas light comes on before you stop for a fill up!
Check the health of your battery
Avoid being stuck in the cold – replace your battery before it dies. The average life of a car battery is just under five years. If your battery is older than three years, it should be tested annually.
Stock up on essential winter items
Keep a snow brush, ice scraper, booster cables and an emergency kit in your car. You never know when bad weather will hit, so it’s better to be prepared for the unexpected.
Now. Since it’s already January, you should have already prepared for the winter weather, but, if you’re like me *ahem* you may still take these points into consideration for the next couple
days weeks months of winter weather. Or just buy a ton of cat litter and call it a day.
I’m not telling you which option I’ve chosen. I wouldn’t want to sway any decisions.
Now where is that
credit card ice scraper…