January 30, 2004

Winter Driving Safety Tips

NEWMARKET With recent heavy snowfalls and more snow in the forecast, York Region Health Services reminds residents to take extra safety precautions when behind the wheel.  


Statistics show that 3,607 collisions were weather-related in York Region 2001 and 2002 (York Region Transportation Operations Branch, 2001-2002).  Most of these incidents could have been prevented.  Winter driving demands using certain techniques to avoid slipping or sliding when snow and ice cover our streets and highways.


Reduce the risk of having a weather-related vehicle collision by following these tips:


        Drive defensively. Stay alert and vigilant

        Stay on main roads. Let someone know your route

        Slow down. Speed limits are for ideal conditions

        Increase your margin of safety. Stopping distances are increased three to nine times on ice or snow

        Learn temperature traps. Freezing occurs first on overpasses, underpasses and bridges.  Ice and snow are twice as slippery at 0˚C as they are at -18˚C

        See and be seen.  Clear ice and snow from your entire car including lights

        Be careful around intersections. Intersections may become "polished" by repeated slipping and sliding, especially at sunrise and sunset

        In a skid, ease off the accelerator and steer in the direction you want to go

        Get in a rut.  On uncleared roads the safest place to be is in the tracks of other cars

        Avoid sudden changes. This includes acceleration, hard braking, and lane changes

        Always keep your gas tank at least half full. Ice crystals can form with condensation, and clog fuel lines

    Don't rush it. Leave yourself plenty of time to get where you are going


Be prepared for an emergency by carrying a winter survival kit in your car, including:

        windshield scraper and snow brush

        lightweight shovel

        bag of sand, traction mats or kitty litter

        booster cables

        empty gas container (four litre size)

        emergency flares (place a least 15m away from vehicle)

        emergency food pack

        emergency candle/matches

        spare fuses 

        tool kit pliers, screwdriver, small hammer wrench etc.

        fire extinguisher (ABC type)

        road maps

        flashlight, first aid kit, survival blanket


        extra clothing/footwear

        battery operated radio (for current weather reports)


And remember to:

        remain calm.

        stay in your car

        lower a window that is sheltered to keep fresh air in your car

        ensure your tailpipe is not blocked by snow

        run your motor sparingly, use a candle for heat

        set out flares, put on your interior dome light

        wear a hat, as you can lose up to 60% of body heat through your head

        exercise your limbs, hands and feet vigorously

        keep moving, don't fall asleep

        watch closely for traffic or searchers



For more information on winter safe driving tips or other health-related questions, contact York Region Health Services Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 or visit www.region.york.on.ca.



Contact:                       Wendy Lewis, York Region Corporate Communications Services

                                    905-830-4444 Ext. 1238


The Regional Municipality of York is committed to providing cost-effective, quality services that respond to the needs of our rapidly growing communities.  York Region is comprised of the following nine area municipalities:  Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Whitchurch-Stouffville.  For more information, visit our Web site at:  www.region.york.on.ca

Contact: Patrick Casey, Senior Media Relations Specialist, York Region

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