When road conditions are poor due to bad weather, allow more time for your trip. Increase your following distance, reduce your speed and maintain your space cushion.
Driving at night
When you are driving at night or at any time when you cannot see clearly 150 metres (500 feet) in front of you, you must turn your headlights on. Daytime running lights are not bright enough to be used at night. They are too dim and the tail-lights and instrument panel lights will not be on.
- Use your low-beam headlights if there is oncoming traffic, even when the highway is divided.
- Be sure that your headlights are properly aimed so that they do not bother or interfere with other drivers.
- Keep your headlights clean.
- Avoid looking directly at oncoming headlights so they do not blind you. Look slightly down and to the right edge of your driving lane until the vehicle passes you.
Visibility is reduced at night. Do not overdrive your headlights. Travel at a speed that allows you to respond safely or stop in the distance lit by your headlights.
Use your low beam headlights
Use your low beam headlights when you are following within 150 metres (one-and-one-half city blocks) of another vehicle.
Use your low beam headlights when you are within 300 metres of oncoming vehicles.
Glare from the sun, reflections, and the lights of other vehicles can affect your vision in the daytime or at night. If glare makes it difficult to see the road, reduce your speed. Ensure your vehicle's windows are properly cleaned inside and outside to improve visibility.
Smoke and fog
In smoke and fog, use low beam headlights, as high beams reflect the light back to you, creating glare. If visibility becomes so poor that it is no longer safe to continue driving, slow down and move your vehicle well off the road to a safe location. Turn on your hazard lights (four-way flashers). Do not attempt to drive until conditions improve. If a safe place to park is not available, ensure that you and your passengers move to a safe location away from the vehicle in case it is hit.
Road surface conditions that affect traction
Black ice is caused by moisture freezing on the road surface. Often a driver cannot see it. However, if the asphalt looks shiny and black instead of grey-white, be cautious, and reduce your speed without braking.
Shaded areas may still be icy even after the sun has melted the ice on other parts of the road.
Bridges and overpasses
Bridge decks and overpasses tend to form slippery patches more readily than other road surfaces. Use extra caution and try to avoid unnecessary lane or speed changes.
Rain and hydroplaning
When it is raining, use low beam headlights, as high beams reflect the light back to you, creating glare. Your vehicle can also be sprayed with water and mud, interfering with your view through the windshield and windows. Be careful not to splash other vehicles and pedestrians.
On wet roads, your tires may lose contact with the road surface. This is called hydroplaning. The loss of contact between the road surface and your tires can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
If this happens, do not brake. Release pressure on the accelerator to allow the vehicle to slow. Look and steer where you want the front of the vehicle to go.
Ice and snow
During the winter you can experience poor weather conditions that can make driving more dangerous. Winter conditions include freezing rain, very low temperatures, blowing snow, high wind chill, blizzards and heavy snowfalls.
Maintain your vehicle. Have it serviced before winter arrives. Be sure that your vehicle's battery, tires, exhaust system, windshield wipers and heating system are in good working condition.
Intersection areas may become icy more quickly because of vehicle exhaust, engine heat, and vehicles spinning their wheels or skidding. Allow more time and distance for stopping and starting. The most important thing is to reduce your speed.
When the temperature rises to the point where the snow begins to melt, roads can become very slippery. When the frost begins to come out of the ground, a thin layer of water is formed on the road surface.
Note: Do not use cruise control when the weather and road conditions are poor. When your tires contact ice, the cruise control will continue to apply the accelerator and you could lose control.
Ensure your vehicle's windows and windshield are not obstructed by snow, frost, steam, mud, or anything else that may make driving the vehicle dangerous.
If you find yourself stranded off the highway and your vehicle is in a safe place, it is usually safer to stay with your vehicle. Run the engine just enough to stay warm. Keep the vehicle ventilated while the engine is running. Open a window a small amount to assist air circulation to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide can get into your vehicle from a leaky exhaust system. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that is colourless, odourless, tasteless and, therefore, very dangerous. Be sure your exhaust system is checked whenever you take your vehicle in for servicing.
Winter emergency supplies to carry in your vehicle:
- blankets and extra clothing
- sand or road salt
- heat source, candle, matches and a deep can to hold the candle
- ice scraper and snow brush
- tire chains