‘Winter is different’: Motorists urged to get ready for difficult driving conditions | CBC News

Drivers in southern Ontario are getting a timely reminder that “winter is different” and it’s time to plan ahead and get your vehicle ready for difficult driving conditions now that snowy weather is here.

Const. Sean Shapiro, spokesperson for the traffic services unit of the Toronto Police Service, urged drivers on Tuesday not only to winterize their vehicles but to adjust their driving to road conditions.

“Possibly the best advice we can give you is to slow down and drive safely. Give yourself lots of room,” Shapiro told reporters. 

“You need to be able to predict, or at least to react, to the unpredictable events that are going to take place in front of you. People losing control, pedestrians slipping, anything can happen in winter weather and we want you to have all the time to respond and react safely.”

The road safety advice came on Toronto’s first snowfall of the season. Toronto police held a news conference that included officials from the city, Ontario Ministry of Transportation, Ontario Provincial Police and CAA South Central Ontario.

Vehicles in Toronto got their first real taste of winter on Tuesday. (CBC)

Shapiro said if drivers are involved in a collision, staying in your car and wearing your seatbelt might be the best response. Calling 911 might be the best option because if a driver has lost control, the vehicle behind in traffic might be losing control next, he said.

“Be careful. Check your surroundings before you get out of your vehicle,” he said. “At the end of the day, we want you to get to your.destinations safely.”

Drivers should be aware of weather and road conditions and give themselves lots of time. The best option on bad weather days may be not to travel, he added.

“The goal is to be winter ready. Even though we live and experience winter annually, we forget these things. We tend to continue driving in a way that goes unchanged. We drive as though it’s the summertime. And we really have to acknowledge that winter is different,” Shapiro said.

‘Now is the time to plan ahead’

Tony Tsai, vice-president of corporate communications and services for CAA South Central Ontario, said winter is just around the corner and drivers need to be prepared.

“Now is the time to plan ahead,” he said.

Tsai said drivers need to do the following to winterize their vehicles and to be winter ready:

  • Install four matching winter tires. 
  • Get your battery checked to ensure it can handle freezing temperatures. “Even a fully charged battery can lose 30 per cent of its power when temperatures dip below zero degrees,” Tsai said.
  • Maintain good visibility. Make sure your headlights and windshield wipers are in good working order and clear of debris.
  • Keep a fully-stocked emergency kit in your vehicle, including a shovel, flashlight, phone charger, warm blanket and non-perishable food items.
  • If you are in a collision or your vehicle breaks down, pull off to the side of the road, know your vehicle location and make it as visible as possible. If you feel unsafe, call 911.

On Tuesday, Environment Canada issued a winter weather travel advisory for Toronto with the forecast calling for five to 10 centimetres of snow that was to begin later in the evening. The snow was forecast to taper to light snow by early Wednesday.

“This is the first significant snowfall of the season,” Environment Canada said in its advisory.

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