Winter Driving 101

By Constable Clinton Stibbe,
Toronto Police Service
Published: 1:18 p.m. December 15, 2016

The Toronto Police Service would like to remind drivers of the impending change of road conditions as a result of the winter storm moving into the city. The Service would like to offer drivers some winter driving tips to make your commute safer.

A car driving past a snowbank in downtown area with large buildings surrounding
Vehicles make their way on Bay St. as snow piles up

Check weather and road conditions often:

Choosing the route ahead of time will help you be prepared and will ensure you know what to expect before you head out on the road. For provincial highway conditions, go to www.ontario.ca/511 or call 511.

Keep a safe distance behind snow plows:

If you find yourself behind a snow plow, remember, the plows are there to help clear the snow and improve road conditions for you.  By maintaining a safe distance, you ensure there is enough time for you to react to any change in traffic flows.  Snow clearing operations can create clouds of snow that can substantially reduce your visibility.   

Slow down and give yourself extra travel time:

Drive according to the road and weather conditions. Posted speed limits are for a clear and dry day, not a snowy day.  

Clear snow and ice from your vehicle:

Make sure you clean all windows, mirrors, lights and the roof of your vehicle. Wait for any fogged windows to clear so your visibility isn’t reduced and you are able to operate your vehicle safely. 

Wear comfortable clothes:

It's a good idea to layer up in the winter time, but having too many layers can restrict your movement and make it difficult to check your blind spot or operate your motor vehicle safely.  Oversized boots could cause your feet to become stuck by the accelerator or brake pedals.

Keep a full gas tank:

Quite often drivers are commuting to and from Toronto with minimal amounts of fuel in their vehicles. Drivers who run their vehicles out of gas cause further traffic delays and also place themselves in danger when the vehicle has come to a stop in live lanes of traffic.

Keep emergency numbers handy and travel with a fully-charged cellphone:

The non-emergency number for the Toronto Police Service is 416-808-2222. 

Avoid using cruise control on slippery roads:

It's easy to lose control of your vehicle in bad weather if you use cruise control.  The cruise control system is incapable of adjusting to weather conditions.

Figure out the best way to recover from a skid for your vehicle:

How your vehicle responds to a skid depends on whether it has rear-wheel, front-wheel or four-wheel drive. If your vehicle has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), learn how to use it correctly. 

Create an emergency kit:

Also remember to create a vehicle emergency kit. Your kit should include: pair of winter gloves, booster cables, shovel, container of windshield washer, First Aid kit, flashlight, snow brush, candles, safety vest, water bottles and granola bars or non-perishable high energy foods. Keep the kit in the trunk of your car. 

If your are involved in a collision:

When to "Steer It Clear It":

• If there is only minor damage and the vehicle is driveable;

• There are no injuries;

• There is not significant debris on the roadway

Why "Steer It Clear It":

• Reduces the likelihood of a secondary collision and potential for injury by 20%;

• Reduces the length of time that a collision remains on the road by up to 65%;

• Reduces congestion, fuel consumption and the impact on the environment

What you should do:

• Remove vehicle from the travel lanes;

• Get name, phone number, driver licence the and insurance information, make, model and year of vehicle;

• Go to one of the of the two Collision Reporting Centres in Toronto within 24 hours

There are two Toronto Centres to serve you: 

North Collision Reporting Centre
113 Toryork Drive, North York 
Open 7 days a week all year, 6:00 a.m. to Midnight.

East Collision Reporting Centre
39 Howden Road, Scarborough 
Open 7 days a week all year, 6:00 a.m. to Midnight.

Toronto Police collision webpage 

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