Monday, 11 February 2013

Five useful items for winter driving

If you've been driving for a relatively long time, you may be taking for granted what a challenge safe driving actually is, and how remarkable it is that you've managed to achieve that. Safe driving is challenging...and that challenge only increases when weather conditions become inclement. For this reason, you should make sure you take all the help you can get in minimizing the effects of winter on your driving. Five items your car shouldn't be without are:

Winter tires. This probably sounds obvious to most of you, however, there is a misconception that many have accepted, around the idea of all season tires being suitable in all conditions. This is not actually the case, despite their name. Just as so-called all season clothing is never suited to the absolute extremes of the summer and winter seasons, so to do all season tires have their limits—and they don't meet the limits of winters in Alberta. At temperatures any lower than seven degrees, all season tires become much less effective in traction. It's important to get your winter tires on as soon as the season starts (or even right before, to be really safe).

Ice scraper/snow brush. Never underestimate the importance of cleaning your car before you head out. All too often, drivers are overconfident in their “ability” to drive a vehicle laden with ice and snow. This is not only dangerous in terms of your own visibility, but also in the risk your vehicle poses to other drivers when chunks of snow and ice blow off of it into the trajectory of other vehicles. This will lead to unnecessary insurance claims, and damage and injury that could have been very easily prevented.

Washer fluid with antifreeze. If you've ever spent a good portion of your time scraping the ice off of your car, only to have it immediately frost over as soon as you get in to drive (more likely to happen in areas with high humidity) then you know the value of washer fluid with antifreeze. While driving around with unnecessary cargo in your trunk can create a heavy vehicle, thereby consuming more gas than necessary, having an extra bit of washer fluid with you shouldn't affect the weight so dramatically, and is worth the peace of mind of having it when you run out. This is especially true if your drives tend to be on the longer side.

Warm blanket. You should always be prepared for the worst, and being stranded in cold, blizzard conditions ranks among those situations we consider to be “the worst.” A good warm blanket will minimize the discomfort and even danger of overexposure to cold temperatures should you find yourself stranded. This in turn will help you to continue making smart, safe decisions.

Car lock deicer. This gadget can be as simple or as high-tech as you want it to be. How do you decide what system is right for you? Try to borrow one from a friend to see how it does. Once you find a tool that works for you, stick with it. A car lock deicer isn't just a fancy extra—knowing that you'll have access to your car one way or another will prevent you from the dangerous practice of leaving your car unlocked overnight, just so that you don't get locked out. A gadget that minimizes your exposure to the risks of theft is one worth having.