MUSKOKA-PARRY SOUND - Police are reminding drivers to keep the “four-second rule” in mind as they head out onto area roadways this winter.
If you are trapped for an extended period of time, make sure your tailpipe is not blocked by snow to keep carbon monoxide from getting into your vehicle
The rule requires drivers to retain a four-second pocket for stopping between their own vehicle and the one in front of them. The tip was issued by OPP Const. Derek Wickett as part of a list of pointers on winter driving safety earlier this week.
“Don’t tailgate other vehicles as this driving habit is even more dangerous in winter conditions, as stopping distances are increased due to snowy and icy road conditions,” he said. “Remember to drop your speed to match road conditions. Regardless of driving experience, the way your car will move on snow or ice always has an element of unpredictability.”
Wickett also reminds drivers to get their vehicles thoroughly inspected before the snow hits.
“Prepare for winter in the fall by getting a complete check-up of your vehicle. Before heading out, ensure your vehicle is properly maintained and your fuel tank and windshield washer fluid are sufficiently full,” said Wickett. “Be sure to remove ice and snow off your roof, hood and trunk along with clearing your windows, lights and mirrors.”
On top of regularly checking tire pressure, drivers are reminded to keep a lookout for black ice, which could be located in shaded areas, bridges and overpasses. Wickett is discouraging drivers from using cruise control over the winter months, as “it forfeits control of your vehicle by allowing the vehicle to accelerate or decelerate on its own.”
When approaching winter-maintenance vehicles, Wickett tells motorists to stay a safe distance away and to exercise patience.
“Stay tuned to weather updates and check road conditions before travelling. During the winter months, always allow yourself extra time for travel to arrive at your destination,” said Wickett. “Plan your route ahead of time. Let someone know of your destination and expected time of arrival.”
If the weather gets really bad, Wickett advises drivers to turn back or to find a safe place to stop until conditions get better. Seatbelts are a must, and children under 12 should always ride in the back seat.
To prepare for the worst, drivers are urged to assemble an emergency kit. The kit should contain an ice scraper and snowbrush, a shovel, sand, a tow rope or chain, booster cables, road flares, gas line antifreeze, a flashlight and batteries, a first-aid kit, a fire extinguisher, non-perishable food items, a candle with matches and extra clothing or a blanket.
“If you have a passenger, remind him or her to take extra clothing as well,” said Wickett. “A cellphone and phone charger are useful tools, but remember to pull over to the side of the road to make the call.”
If stuck or stranded, Wickett tells drivers not to panic and to stay with the vehicle for safety and warmth until help arrives. Drivers can call 911 in the event of an emergency.
“If you are trapped for an extended period of time, make sure your tailpipe is not blocked by snow to keep carbon monoxide from getting into your vehicle,” he said.
Further information on roads and weather information can be found by visiting the Ministry of Transportation website at www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/traveller/conditions.