Preparing Your Vehicle for Safe Winter Driving

car at mechanics

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With the snow in the air, it’s not too late to get your car at it’s best for the tougher driving conditions that winter brings. Here is a simple list* that any reputable garage or mechanic can help you with to make sure you are at your safest when on the winter roads:

Brakes – Your brakes should always be equalised so there is no pulling to one side. If the brakes on your car are uneven, you may be more likely to skid on snow-covered or icy roads.

Cooling system – Every few years, you should have your cooling system flushed out with a chemical cleaner and replaced with fresh anti-freeze. Check your containers, belts, hoses, the pressure caps and thermostat.

Battery and electrical system – Cold weather is very hard on batteries, so have yours checked. Be sure that the connections are always clean and tight and that there is no corrosion around the connectors.

Fuel System – Make sure there is plenty of gas in your tank at all times. A full tank minimizes condensation, which may cause gas line freezing. Add gasoline antifreeze occasionally.

Engine – A diagnostic check-up of the engine can be a good pre-winter ritual. At your next scheduled tune-up, have it done. Faulty wiring, worn spark plugs, a sticking choke or emission control devices that need attention, can all cause problems when starting your car.

Exhaust system – Check your muffler and tail pipe system for carbon monoxide leaks. This is especially important in the winter when the windows of your car are almost always closed.

Heaters, defrosters and wipers – Have your car’s windshield, heaters, defrosters and wipers checked to make sure they are fully operational. Install new winter wiper blades and use properly rated, winter washer fluid. Ensure your windshield always gives you a clear vision of the road and traffic around you.

Oil and filter – Dirty oil can mean trouble in the winter, so change the oil and filter before the cold weather starts. Other filters need your attention too – your fuel, air and transmission filters should all be attended to as well.

Tires – Snow tires increase traction in soft snow. Make sure to install them on all four wheels, as it will mean greater control of your vehicle when accelerating and braking, and don’t forget to check your tire pressure regularly. Properly inflated tires are crucial to safe winter driving.

 

Take time to take care.

Ron Lapointe
Registered Broker

 

* Some information for this checklist supplied by the Canada Safety Council.

Driving tips for safe summer trips.

Road Safety for your family vehicle

Summer is almost here and that means the roads will start to get busier with excited drivers on their way to the lake, the cottage, or maybe their annual summer getaway. Although driving conditions are far safer in the summer months, more fatalities occur on Canadian roads during the summer than at any other time of year, including the winter holiday season. Alcohol, fatigue and aggressive driving are often the culprits in these tragedies. The following is a common-sense list of suggestions to help keep your summer on the roads a safe one.

Prepare your vehicle

Before leaving on vacation, have your vehicle checked to make sure everything is working properly. Repair or replace worn parts to avoid the worry and time-consuming costly repairs that could ruin your trip. Check fluid levels and tire pressure. Make sure all lights work, including signal lights. 

Keep your passengers safe

Make sure everyone in your vehicle is buckled up properly at all times. Buckling up is the single most effective thing you can do to keep yourself and your passengers safe while on the road.

If you are traveling with young children, make sure to make regular stops. Bring plenty of items to keep them occupied. Special travel games and songs also help. This will also help minimize the distraction of unhappy children in the back seat. 

Drive defensively

Drive at a safe speed. Speeding increases the likelihood and severity of a crash. The faster a vehicle is moving, the less time the driver has to react to a hazard, and for other road users to react to that vehicle. A speeding vehicle requires more time and distance to stop. Leave plenty of distance between yourself and the vehicle ahead. Apply the three-second rule so you can see around the car ahead and plan a maneuver to avoid potential dangers, add more time if you have a heavier vehicle, and in poor weather conditions.

The Canada Safety Council estimates that 85 per cent of collisions are preventable. But simply being in the right will not save you from injury or death. You must be prepared for the unsafe actions of other motorists or for poor driving conditions. 

Obey all signs and signals, including speed limits, traffic lights, stop signs and railway crossings.

Those signs are not posted to be nice decorations for you to look at to help pass the time, and they’re not just for the other drivers on the road. 

Absolutely NEVER drink and drive.  Enough said.

Stay alert

Canadians often travel long distances when they go on vacation. This creates a temptation to keep driving for extended periods even when tired. On top of this, routes can be quite monotonous, another factor that can make a driver sleepy. Get a good sleep before leaving on a long trip. Fatigue is a form of impairment; so don’t give in to that temptation to push on. If you started early, stop early. Rest stops are important. A break keeps the driver alert by promoting blood circulation, makes the trip more pleasant for passengers and lets the vehicle cool down.

Carrying a heavy load or towing a trailer

Before you tow a trailer or haul a load, make sure your vehicle is properly equipped for the job. Check your owner’s manual or if in doubt contact your vehicle dealer. Check that your rear view mirrors give a clear view of the road behind. Driving a heavily loaded car or towing a trailer means you need more space to stop or pass.

Leave plenty of distance between yourself and the vehicle ahead.

Keep your distance – at least three seconds for each six metres (20 ft.) of vehicle length. For conditions that are less than ideal, increase the following distance. If cars cut in front of you, drop back to keep your separation. When traveling slower than the flow of traffic, be courteous. Pull over where possible to let faster vehicles pass.

Share the road

With the warmer weather, comes the prevalence of vulnerable roads users. Motorists must be cautious of cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians. Always be on the lookout for and yield to vulnerable road users, even if they don’t have the right-of-way. Summer also brings increased construction on our roads and highways. Be prepared to stop or slow down in construction zones. 

 

Take time to take care.

Ron Lapointe
Registered Broker

Some information for this blog entry supplied by Canada Safety Council

What to do immediately after an automobile accident

Temp Car Accident

Would you know what to do if you were in a car accident?

What to do after a car accident

STEP 1 – Stop immediately. If your vehicle is involved in an accident and you don’t stop, you may be subject to criminal prosecution.

STEP 2 – If anyone is injured, if the total damage to all the vehicles involved appears to be MORE than $1,000, or if you suspect that any of the other drivers involved are guilty of a Criminal Code offence (such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol), call 911 and follow the instructions given to you by the emergency operator. Police will arrive as soon as possible.

Do not try to move anyone injured in the accident — you may aggravate their injuries!

If no one is injured and total damage to all the vehicles involved appears to be LESS than $1,000, call your local police for instructions. Police units may or may not be dispatched to the scene. If local police do not attend the scene of the accident, they will instruct you to report to a Collision Reporting Centre within 24 hours.

Collision Reporting Centres are police facilities created to assist motorists in reporting motor vehicle accidents. At the reporting centre you will be assisted in completing a police report, and damage to the vehicle will be photographed. If there isn’t a Collision Reporting Centre in the area of the accident, the police will ask you to go to the nearest police station to file a report.

STEP 3 – If it is safe to do so, move your vehicle to the side of the road, out of traffic. If your vehicle cannot be driven, turn on your hazard lights or use cones, warning triangles or flares, as appropriate.

If you have access to a digital camera or a cell phone, you should use it to take pictures of the scene; preferably before the vehicles are moved.  You should also use your cell phone to audio record as much information as possible.

STEP 4 – Write down the names, addresses, and telephone and driver’s licence numbers of all of the other drivers, the licence plate numbers of the other vehicles, as well as the names and addresses of the registered owners of the vehicles, and the insurance information for each of the other vehicles.

STEP 5 – Also obtain the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of passengers and witnesses.

STEP 6 – Jot down specific details about the scene of the accident, using the accident worksheet provided.

STEP 7 – Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident. You can find the phone number of your insurance company located on the front, or back of your pink liability slips.

Remember, when you are in a car accident…

  • As difficult as it may seem, it is important that you remain calm.

  • Do not argue with other drivers and passengers. Save your story for the police.

  • Do not voluntarily assume liability or take responsibility, sign statements regarding fault, or promise to pay for damage at the scene of the accident.

  • Be careful of unauthorized tow truck operators pressuring you to have your vehicle towed, demanding immediate payment for the tow, or attempting to take your vehicle to a garage or body shop of their choice. They may try to use the confusion of the moment to intimidate you into allowing your vehicle to be towed. If you feel you are being pressured, ask the police for the name of an authorized tow truck operator and have your vehicle towed to a Collision Reporting Centre or a police compound until you can talk to your insurance company.

Be prepared for any emergency on the road

Always keep a basic vehicle first aid or emergency kit in the trunk of your vehicle. You can easily create an emergency kit for your vehicle by filling a plastic storage container with the following:

  • a basic first aid kit,

  • a disposable camera,
  • emergency road flares, warning triangles or cones,

  • a fire extinguisher (A-B-C Type),

  • a flashlight and extra batteries,

  • bottled water,

  • booster cables,

  • a tire repair kit and pump,

  • a small tool kit,

  • a towel,

  • a pair of work gloves,

  • some type of nonperishable food,

  • hand wipes,

  • a thermal blanket.

If you suspect that you may be a victim or target of a scam or fraud, you can help put an end to the scam or fraud by reporting it. As a first step, report the matter to police. You can also make a report to FSCO’s Fraud Hotline. Go to www.fsco.gov.on.ca/TipNow or call 1-855-5TIP-NOW. Tips to FSCO’s Fraud Hotline can be anonymous.

Source: http://www.fsco.gov.on.ca/en/auto/brochures/pages/brochure_accidents.aspx

 

Driving in cold weather

woman using ice scraper on car windshield

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So here’s the scenario: You’re laying in your nice, warm bed when your radio alarm clock wakes you up with another weather forecast filled with freezing temperatures and more snow expected. In a perfect world, you turn the alarm off, close your eyes and forget everything you just heard because you aren’t going anywhere today.   But most of us live in the world where you have to get up, scrape your windows, jump in your vehicle and face the elements, so here’s a small checklist for your vehicle to help keep you safe when the weather turns bad.

A winter checklist for your vehicle

The following items should cover most situations:

  • windshield scraper and snow brush;
  • lightweight shovel;
  • bag of sand, wire traction mat or other abrasive substance;
  • large box of facial tissues;
  • properly inflated spare tire;
  • wheel wrench and jack;
  • first aid kit;
  • flashlight;
  • flares;
  • battery jumper cables.

For long distance travel take extra precautions: bring a blanket, candles, lighter or matches, emergency rations, lined winter boots, hat and other warm clothes, and small heating cans.

It only takes a few dollars and very little time to make sure your car is fully prepared and equipped for harsh, winter conditions. It’s worth the effort.

 

Take time to take care.

Ron Lapointe
Registered Broker

 

* Some information for this checklist supplied by the Canada Safety Council.

 

Winter is Coming – Don’t forget: Your car is not a Sherman Tank!

Be prepared - winter driving

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Clean off Your Car in Winter

How often have you been driving down the highway in the winter when you approach a car in front of you that is hurtling down the road resembling a giant white tank? Let me paint this picture a little clearer for you. The ‘car’ in front of you has so much snow left on it that the wind is firing frozen missiles from it’s roof at you that come crashing down on your windshield, making for some pretty anxious moments.

After a few kilometers following this nitwit, you cautiously take your opportunity to pass them to get out of the barrage of ice and snow only to discover that all of their windows are covered in snow except for a tiny credit card sized hole that they’ve scraped off of their windshield with what looks like their finger nails.

This driver is a huge liability on the road as they can’t see you, and because of all the flying snow, you have a hard time seeing them.  They could also be subject to a sizeable fine* for their carelessness in making sure that they are operating a safe vehicle, especially in adverse conditions.

Winter driving is stressful enough at the best of times, so how can you make sure that you are not the one driving the Sherman Tank?

Clear ALL snow and ice off your vehicle before getting behind the wheel. This includes your windows, trunk, hood, roof and sides of the vehicle if necessary. This will make it much easier for others to see your vehicle and avoid you being at fault for flying snow and ice into other vehicles that could cause a serious accident, especially when traveling at highway speeds.

Slow down. Your vehicle is NOT indestructible, and can’t stop on a dime, especially when traveling on snow covered, wet or icy roads, so give yourself extra room between vehicles and drive according to not just the speed limits, but the conditions around you.

– When it’s snowing, use your full nighttime lights even when driving during the daytime. Again, giving people the best chance to see you will help minimize your chances of getting hit by someone else.

Just some simple, common sense tips to help get you safely to where you want to go.

Take time to take care.

Ron Lapointe
Registered Broker

* Ontario Highway Traffic Act: 74.(1) Windows to afford clear view. All your windows must be clean and clear enough so you can see clearly out

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