May 22, 2022

As we hope for warmer spring months in Ontario, winter can have a fierce way of holding on for as long as it can. For the past few weeks, it has been coating Southern Ontario roads in a blanket of glistening ice and snow.

However pretty it may appear, it can be extremely dangerous to drive on, especially when the weather around this time of year can change from a blizzard to rainy, icy conditions in a matter of hours.

Brushing snow off a car in a snowy driveway. Photo by Celeste McCarthy.

“Drive according to what you can handle and what you can manage … if it’s not safe for you, it’s probably not safe for other people,” said Const. André Johnson, a Public Information Officer with the Waterloo Regional Police Service.

According to the RCMP’s website, in 2017 nearly 30 per cent of car accidents in Canada happened on snowy or icy roads. Knowing how to navigate these types of changing weather conditions is a necessity if you need to be driving.

Ronda Louer, an in-class instructor for Ultimate Drivers, an Ontario driver training organization, said that their program goes in-depth about teaching students to be prepared for all weather conditions.

“I’ve been very, very impressed actually,” Louer said. “They talk about … a vast array of weather conditions, and what to do if, and how to prepare for, and what is your mindset based on driving and the weather.”

There are many precautions drivers should take surrounding their driving habits and vehicles when it comes to unpredictable weather, one of those being the use of winter tires.

Having winter tires on your vehicle during the winter and icy periods of the year is not required by law in Ontario, unlike a few other provinces in Canada.

However, they are highly recommended by the Ontario government and insurance companies, who usually offer discounts for drivers with winter tires.

Traffic along Homer Watson Road in Kitchener, Ontario before a snowstorm. Photo by Celeste McCarthy.

According to the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada, drivers should be switching to winter tires on their vehicles as soon as the temperature consistently drops to below 7C, changing them back to summer tires when the weather is consistently in the positive temperatures.

“Drive to the conditions and follow the flow of traffic as best as you can … increase your following distance as well so that you’re not getting too close,” said Const. Johnson. “We know that in this weather it takes a lot longer for people to brake, and not everybody will have winter tires on.”

While the wait for warmer weather continues and winter throws its last storms our way, it’s important to keep these tips in mind and practise safe driving, whether it’s rain, snow, or bright sunshine.

“Number one [is to] execute proper mindset. If you’re not feeling up to what the weather has presented, don’t drive,” said Lauer. “Even the maintenance aspects of your vehicle, make sure it’s well maintained.”

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