Staying Safe on Calgary’s Winter Roads: A Primer for Winter Driving
Calgary’s winters are not only brutal at times, but can be downright dangerous. In addition to wind chill temperatures that routinely push -40º Celsius, with homes buried under centimetres of snow, shorter days and minimal sunlight, we must also endure unforgiving road conditions that can render a quick trip to the store — into a dangerous ordeal.
According to data compiled by the Government of Alberta, the months that saw the highest number of injury and property damage collisions in 2017 were November and December—more than one-fifth of all collisions recorded that year occurred during the winter. As we move into January and February in the new year, Albertans must be ready for deep freeze / chinook weather cycles, and how they affect road driving conditiosn.
Winter Driving Tips
Winter driving can be challenging, so here are some steps you may take to minimize your risk:
- Make sure that your vehicle is in good working condition. A quick visit to any of Alberta’s qualified mechanics can ensure that your brakes, wheels, engine, and electrical systems are in order.
- Winterize your vehicle. Consider installing wiper blades designed for cold weather and snow, topping up your antifreeze, changing your oil out for winter weight, and adding a roadside emergency kit.
- Invest in a set of snow tires. Snow tires offer unique features (like specialized traction patterns and temperature-resistant rubber) that help your vehicle stay on the road and under control.
- Check the weather and road conditions. In Alberta, 511 and the Alberta Motor Association Road Reports offer up-to-date information about road conditions province-wide, while the City of Calgary has comprehensive reporting on road conditions in the city and rest of the province.
- Clear your vehicle before your drive. Remove any snow or ice on your vehicle completely from your windows, side view mirrors, headlights, taillights, and license plates so all visual obstructions are removed.
- Keep your fuel tank at least half full. The extra volume can reduce moisture issues in your fuel system and add extra weight to your vehicle (which may improve traction).
- Focus and maintain control. Avoid distractions (like adjusting the radio, talking to passengers, using your phone, GPS, and so on) wherever possible. Ensure that any cruise control, or self-driving systems are disengaged—you may need to react quickly.
- Slow down. Posted speed limits are intended for optimal conditions, and nothing about driving in an Albertan winter is optimal.
- Use your turn signals. This may seem obvious, but signalling well in advance will give other motorists time to anticipate and react to you.
- Increase your following distance. Snow or ice on the road will impact your ability to come to a complete stop quickly. Give yourself and those around you, adequate space.
- Avoid sudden moves. Abruptly changing direction or slamming on your brakes could cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
- Know how to recover from a skid. If your car begins to skid, take your foot off the brake and steer “into” it, to regain control, (for example, if the car is skidding left, gently turn the steering wheel to the left). Once the wheels have regained their grip on the road, brake firmly and smoothly.
What to do if you get into a Winter Driving Car Accident
No matter how prepared you are for winter driving in Calgary and Alberta, you may still be involved in a automotive collision.
If you, or someone you love, have suffered due to the actions or negligence of another, the team at Pipella Law is here to help. We will represent your interests long-term, regardless of the challenges tomorrow may bring. If you have questions, or concerns about legal representation, please give us a call to book a free consultation with our personal injury team. We are dedicated to advocating on your behalf and operate on a contingency fee basis—you will not pay until we deliver the settlement you deserve.
You don’t have to suffer. We are here to help.