In the coming weeks many of us will be taking to the highway in this province as we visit family and friends during the Christmas season.
We all know that the weather can go from clear and sunny to blizzard-like conditions in a matter of minutes. This makes for unpredictable road conditions.
The RCMP has issued some basic driving tips to keep in mind for the holidays and throughout the winter months:
• Take a few minutes to clean off your car before driving. Make sure windows are completely defrosted before entering the roadway. Laziness preparing your vehicle for the road is often rewarded with a ticket, or worse yet, a collision.
• Reduce your speed. It's the only way to stay in control on icy and wet roads. Black ice is common in Newfoundland and Labrador especially early in the morning and it's difficult to see. Slow down to ensure better control.
• Leave a safe distance between your car and the car in front of you. This allows you to have enough breaking distance to stop safely.
• Ensure your vehicle tires are in very good condition, good winter tires are highly recommended.
• Plan your trip, leave earlier than normal to allow ample time for you to arrive on time. This eliminates the desire to speed or drive too fast for conditions.
• If you have to stop on the side of the road, make sure you get as far off the travel portion of the highway as possible. Use your emergency flashers and make sure the on-coming traffic has stopped before you get out of your car. An emergency kit in the car is always a good idea — an even better idea in the winter.
• If visibility is low and you are driving slow, use your emergency flashers, it helps to makes your vehicle more visible to other drivers.
• Graduated and Learner (G and L sticker) drivers, take special care. This might be your first experience with icy and slushy road conditions and slowing down is your best option in inclement weather. Parents, a quick driving refresher with your new drivers is a great opportunity to explain these challenges and it may keep your children safer on our Island roads.
There are some simple things for drivers to remember when driving in winter weather: stay alert, slow down, and stay in control — the three key elements of safe winter driving.