“You don’t know exactly when winter’s coming and it happens very quickly when it does come,” said Ryan Jacobson, CEO of the Saskatchewan Safety Council. “The challenge is that drivers have to adapt driving behaviours very quickly, sometimes within a day or overnight.”
With snow and colder temperatures on the horizon, throughout November police across the province will be on the lookout for people driving too fast for road conditions. From November 2013 to March 20141, driving too fast for road conditions was cited as a contributing factor in 1,511 collisions in Saskatchewan, resulting in seven deaths and 617 injuries.
Police will also be on the lookout for other unsafe winter driving behaviours, including failing to clear windows of obstructions such as snow or frost, and neglecting to ensure the proper use of headlights and taillights in low visibility conditions.
“In winter months it is crucial that drivers are aware of all the extra conditions that you don’t necessarily have to be aware of in the summer,” said Jacobson. “Snow, ice and freezing rain reduce traction and control while blowing snow, fog and other weather conditions may severely limit visibility.”
To ensure a safe and collision-free winter, SGI and the Saskatchewan Safety Council offer the following tips:
- Slow down. Remember that posted speed limits are for ideal driving conditions. Give yourself more time to reach your destination and adjust your speed accordingly when conditions are less than favourable.
- Pay attention. Look further ahead, allowing you to identify potential hazards sooner.
- Leave space. Increase following distance by leaving more distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you to give more time to react and stop.
- See and be seen. Ensure headlights and taillights are visible and turned on at night and when visibility is poor. Clear obstructions such as snow and frost from windows before driving.
- Get a grip. Prepare your vehicle for adverse weather with winter tires as they provide improved traction on winter road surfaces.
- Be proactive. Check the weather forecast and the Highway Hotline for road conditions before traveling. Pack an emergency travel kit in case your vehicle gets stuck or you become stranded.
- Maintain control. Gentle acceleration, stopping and steering manoeuvres help to prevent loss of traction and potential skid situations.
“If you do find your vehicle skidding, remain calm and take your foot off the accelerator,” said Jacobson. “Steer first and brake second. Look where you want to go and steer in that direction.”
Jacobson recommends that, ultimately, it comes down to preparing your vehicle and yourself as a driver for the winter months. Simple things like proactively adapting driving habits, learning proper winter driving techniques or even ensuring your vehicle is properly equipped can make all the difference in staying safe on the roads this winter.
For drivers looking to brush up on winter driving skills, The Saskatchewan Safety Council’s SkidSmart Collision Avoidance course teaches drivers what causes a vehicle to lose control and how to recover from those types of situations. As part of the course, drivers are even able to practice recovering their vehicle from a skid on an outdoor ice pad.
Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) is the province’s self-sustaining auto insurance fund. SGI operates 21 claims centres and five salvage centres across Saskatchewan with a head office in Regina. SGI also works with a network of nearly 400 motor licence issuers across the province. Customers can now do some transactions online. Look for the MySGI link underOnline Services on your motor licence issuer’s website or SGI’s website.
Assets / Links
- 2014 statistics are preliminary.