Driving in the Snow: Follow Up
December 6, 2017
We’re now entering the worst driving months in B.C., with many communities seeing snowfall as early as October this year.
Following our column on November 17 about conquering winter driving, I received numerous inquiries, including one from our reader Helen, requesting a follow-up column where we dive further into the nitty-gritty of winter driving in B.C.
As many of you know, driving in the snow is no easy feat and requires some skill and planning. Having the proper tires cannot be emphasized enough – equip your car and your loved ones’ car with either snow tires or all seasons. Switching out your summer tires for something more weather-appropriate is not only logical and safe, it’s mandatory in some parts of the province.
An important component of driving in the snow is knowing about how to use your vehicle and all its features, such as: climate control and anti- braking systems.
When visibility is already low because of the weather, the last thing you want are foggy windows. Foggy windows boil down to a basic science – when warm, humid air inside your car meets the colder glass surface, condensation forms. Many factors can affect the humidity in your car, including the number of passengers and even small things such as wet umbrellas and snow brought in from snow boots.
Many vehicles nowadays have windshield and rear window defrosters, but the principle of getting rid of foggy windows is simple – reduce the level of humidity inside. This means turning on the heat, to heat up the windows, with defroster on highest setting, A/C turned on and cracking your windows. Remember, do not recirculate the air or the moisture will stay inside.
As a rule of thumb, keep windows clean especially during the winter. Don’t use a tissue or a sponge to wipe off the condensation because this could make the surface more dirty and oily, giving condensation more surface area to cling to.
Newer vehicle models also come with anti-lock braking systems (ABS). ABS brakes are meant to keep your wheels from locking up so that you can maintain control of your vehicle.
In a slippery situation, remember to never pump on ABS brakes – this could de-activate the system. Instead, keep your foot firmly on the brake pedal and the system will automatically pump the brakes.
Lastly, there is the issue of the snow that accumulates on your vehicle. Some people are guilty of driving with little snow mounds on top of their cars, but not only is this dangerous and can be considered a traffic offence, it can disrupt the view of your fellow drivers, and when hitting the brakes, the heavy snow can damage your windshield wipers, or worse, fly off your vehicle into following traffic.
It’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. Pack a phone charger and keep the number for BCAA or local tow trucks handy just in case. Also remember to make sure you have emergency food and water in your car as well as all necessary winter car accessories like flares, blankets, ice scrapers and snow brushes and wear seasonal clothing and footwear. If you’re going on a trip through adverse conditions, move the kit to the back seat so you can easily reach it if you get stuck. And keep your gas tank full (or your EV battery charged) in case you get stopped or stuck for an extended period of time and you need to keep warm.
If you’re in the market for winter car kit essentials, be sure to visit your local new car dealer – they’ll ensure you have what you need to shift into winter safely, before hitting the roads.
Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at [email protected].
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