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Winter Driving Tips

Posted: February 12, 2019

Winter Driving Tips

The East St. Paul Emergency Preparedness Team would like to present some information to our residents regarding driving in the winter.
One of the most important tips we can provide is being mindful of the posted speed limit on our roadways.  As has been mentioned in the past, the posted speed limits are set for ideal driving conditions found in the summer on warm and dry days.  Driving in the winter poses a whole new set of rules.  Drive to the conditions of the road.  Ice, snow packs, slush, loose snow, ruts on the road etc. are all hazards.  Black ice is especially treacherous as it is difficult to detect it on the

If you are venturing out in the winter, take time to plan your trip.  Check the weather forecast for the areas you will be traveling in and to.  If you are planning on taking a longer trip, the weather you may be experiencing at the start could drastically change in a few hours.  Check the numerous weather related websites for up to date information.
Part of your planning process should include checking the highway conditions.  The Province of Manitoba has an excellent website designated 511.  It provides up to date information on road conditions.  In addition, the site has remote cameras set up on highways throughout the province so you can see the weather conditions first hand. In cases of major snow storms, consider postponing or cancelling your trip.

The website can be accessed at www.manitoba511.ca
There is an excellent app also available for cell phones.

Here are a few other tips for driving in the winter:
  • Avoid using cruise control.  On wet and slippery roads, a skid while using cruise control will cause the vehicle to accelerate.

  • Stay sharp - be a defensive driver. Beware of icy spots – bridges, overpasses, just before intersections and shady spots. Watch for other drivers who may be sliding. Slow down near vehicles stopped by the side of the road.

  • Stay well back of snow plows. Never pass on the right.

  • Learn how to recover from different types of skidding. In all cases, look in the direction where you want to go; take your foot off the gas and off the brake.

  • See and be seen. Before leaving, clear snow and ice off your vehicle and wait for foggy windows to clear up. Turn headlights on during heavy snow or sleet. On sunny days, use the visor and/or polarized sunglasses. Advance cautiously at snow banks near intersections.

  • Maintain your vehicle and switch to winter tires. Check the condition of your tires and windshield wipers for excessive wear. Get regular tune-ups, check your fluid levels.

  • Drive smoothly. Accelerate, brake and make turns gradually, gently. Brake sooner.

  • Keep plenty of following distance between you and the vehicle ahead. In ideal conditions, leave four seconds on city streets and six seconds on highways. In winter, leave considerably more.           

Another important piece of preparedness is having an emergency car kit.  Some of the items you should include are:
  • Food that won’t spoil such as energy bars
  • Water in plastic bottles that won’t break if they freeze
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Bright colored piece of clothing or cloth that you can use for signaling
  • Extra clothing and boots
  • First aid kit including a seat belt cutter
  • Small shovel, scraper and snowbrush
  • Candle in a deep can with matches
  • Wind up flashlight
  • Whistle in case you need to attract attention
  • Charger for your cell phone
  • Sand, salt or non-clumping cat litter
  • Tow rope
  • Jumper cables
  • Flares 

Make sure your gas tank is always full.  If you do get stranded in a snow bank, it is safer to stay with your vehicle as opposed to venturing out, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area.  If you do get stranded, call 911. 
Run your engine for 15-20 minutes from time to time to heat up your vehicle.  Ensure your exhaust pipe(s) are clear of any snow. 
It is also a good idea to pack some books, games or plan activities to help pass the time. 
Lastly, let people know the route you are taking and your estimated time of arrival.   
Winter in Manitoba is challenging at times especially when it comes to your vehicle and driving.  If you take a few moments to prepare for your trip, prepare your vehicle and adjust your driving habits, you and others around you will be safer.


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