We all know weather can be unpredictable in Manitoba. It's always a good idea to check local weather reports before you leave home. If you must drive, go to Manitoba 511 to check road conditions and practice the following recommendations:
- Give yourself extra time for travel and, if the weather is bad, wait for conditions to improve.
- Always tell someone where you're going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to arrive. If you don't arrive on time and people are worried about your safety, they'll know where to search for you.
- Keep a tank of fuel at least half full, or if you drive an electric vehicle, ensure that it has enough range for unplanned events, as cold weather can affect the range of the vehicle.
See and be seen
Remove all snow from your vehicle's hood, roof, windows, and lights before travelling, and clear all windows of frost and fog. Some provinces can even issue fines if your vehicle is not clear of all snow.
Stay on main roads and drive carefully. Match your speed to the road and weather conditions. Avoid passing another vehicle when weather and road conditions are bad. When you drive on a snow-covered road there may be more snow or slush between lanes than in the lane, making changing lanes more difficult.
Be prepared to make a call
Keep your phone fully charged. If you need to call for emergency help, such as 911, let someone with you make the call or pull over to a safe spot to place a call.
Know your vehicle
Some owner’s manuals describe specific control settings the driver needs to set to help get unstuck from the snow. In extreme weather, don't use cruise control or other driver assistance technologies. Ensure all your lights are on when driving — on some vehicles, the tail lights do not turn on automatically when the vehicle is running.
Keep a safe distance
In bad weather, you should also put more distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. The three second rule is a good tip. You should be able to count to three before you get to the same point in the road that the vehicle in front of you was at when you started counting.
A good way to avoid skidding is to drive appropriately for road and weather conditions. Slow down in bad weather. Allow extra travel time and be very careful when you brake, change lanes, make turns, and take curves. Even careful and experienced drivers can skid, so be prepared.
Correcting a rear-wheel skid
When your rear wheels lock or lose traction, follow these steps to regain steering control:
- If hard braking has caused the rear wheels to skid, take your foot off the brake pedal. If the rear wheels have lost traction, ease off the gas pedal. Resist the urge to slam on the brakes, and don’t panic.
- Shift the vehicle into neutral or push in the clutch pedal. During a skid, it’s important to reduce the forward motion of the vehicle to quicken stop time.
- Look ahead in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go and steer gently in the same direction. As you do so, be aware of how the vehicle is responding to your steering.
- Once the vehicle is straight, return to a driving gear.
- Accelerate gently until you reach a safe and comfortable driving speed.
Correcting a front-wheel skid
When the front wheels lose traction, you lose ability to steer. You may be alarmed, but try not to panic. To regain steering control, follow these steps:
- As with rear-wheel skids, take your foot off the brake pedal right away if hard braking has caused the front wheels to skid. If the front wheels have lost traction, ease off the gas pedal.
- Shift to neutral or push in the clutch pedal to slow the vehicle down.
- Wait for the front wheels to grip the road again.
- When you feel traction returning, select drive or release the clutch.
- Accelerate gently until you reach a safe and conformable driving speed.
If you have any questions about driving safely in winter weather, call us to speak with a safety advisor at 204-775-3171 in Winnipeg or 204-728-3456 in Brandon.