Winter driving

From the February 2021 print edition

Winter driving begins even before the chill, the snow and freezing rain arrive. The major issue here is the mental approach that the drivers take. They should adapt their driving habits even though the driver has already driven in the winter. It seems that we all forget about how to do it every year. You need to relearn to drive during this season. As the saying goes, “to repeat is to educate.”

You need to adapt your driving to the season – but you also need to change the way you think about driving. Plan your travel ahead, take a look at the weather before taking to the road, try to reduce the amount you travel by using technology (we’ve learned a lot in this regard during the actual pandemic) to communicate with your colleagues, customers, suppliers and so on.

Prepare and distribute the right communication that your organization uses from the health and safety department. Include a reminder on winter driving in your staff meeting. Even in December, you can still do this.

You also might organize and plan training session for winter. The education provided may be theorical or practical. You can use driver simulators to update the performance of your employees. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Tires
In this section I will present what should be the most important element on your vehicle during the winter season: tires. To explain all the different types of tires available would be too difficult, but I will try to give you some of the highlights. Also, the diversity of weather conditions across Canada makes it impossible to have one, unique way to select the right type of tires. You will need to do your own analysis or discuss it with specialists. If you want winter tires, make sure they have the following pictogram:

Generally, depending on vehicle type, you will have a set for winter and one for the rest of the year. You can also think of new types of tires, such as all-weather tires. They are a trade-off between winter tires and four-season tires. All-weather tires don’t carry the above pictogram.

There are some winter tires that will work best on ice, others on snow, while some will offer a fair performance on both types of winter roads. Some tires can even have studs. If you consider this last option, make sure your employees have the ability to use them. As well, the performance of the vehicle might be slightly different from normal winter tires.

The last piece of tire-related advice that I can give you, and it’s an important one, is about the tire tread’s depth. A new tire should have a tread depth between 10/32 and 12/32 inches. That said, it is a good practice to replace the tires with less than 6/32 inches of depth. The main reason is based on the impact such a depth has on stopping a vehicle during operation.

As you can see, there is a lot to say about tires, the variety, the type of weather and the winter conditions in your area. But remember that the focus is the safety and health of your employees.

Kit supplies
For your own safety, you need to have some gear on board your vehicle for winter and the most important piece is the snowbrush. And there is a lot more! The federal government has listed what you need in your car at this time of year. You can take a look at the following link to learn more on this topic: getprepared.gc.ca)

Laws
There is a lot to say on the subject of laws, but I will present just two aspects. The first is whether winter tires are mandatory, while the second is whether or not it is obligatory to remove snow from your vehicle.
As for the winter tires being mandatory, so far as I know, there is two provinces with specific laws. Those provinces are British Columbia and Québec. In Northern Ontario, it is also mandatory to have them. In all other provinces there is no obligation, but the authorities recommended it.

Regarding removing snow from your vehicle, some provinces have specific articles of law that require you to wipe off all the snow. It is a matter of safety.

Carbon monoxide
Last but not least, Carbon monoxide is an insidious gas, as it is odourless. Do not let your vehicle run inside. If you need to make a complete stop and keep the vehicle running due to low temperature, open a window to make sure that carbon monoxide is evacuated.

Finally, even though the winter may be winding down soon, there is always time to make the right adjustments or take actions. Con­stant reminders are the way to go.

Have a safe winter season!