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5 ways to take control of wintertime weather

Avoiding an accident is the goal

Here in eastern Canada, winter weather can be unpredictable.

However, there are a number of ways to prepare yourself for its onslaught. Whether you’ve lived here all your life or you're new to the area, getting ready for snow, sleet, hail, ice pellets, as well as the inevitable thaws will give you the tools you’ll need to drive safely from November through March on the east coast.

1. Set up for success before leaving home

When poor weather is coming your way, there are a few steps you can take to get through it while reducing your chances of being in an accident.

Firstly, if snow, sleet, or ice pellets have already begun to fall, give yourself at least fifteen to twenty extra minutes to get to your destination. Now is not a good time to hurry. Stow your vehicle’s emergency kit, an extra blanket, sand or non-clumping cat litter for traction, and road-side hazard lights in the trunk.

You’ll never be sorry for over-preparing.

2. See and be seen

Be sure to clear all the accumulated snow from your windows, mirrors, head- and tail-lights, and the roof of your vehicle.

A cloud of snow flying off your vehicle while driving is a visual hazard to the car behind you, and ice chunks can be catastrophic. Also, you’ll have a better sense of your surroundings if your windows are all clear. If you’d like to be as visible as possible to oncoming traffic as well as cars behind you, turn on your headlights. In bad weather, daytime running lights may not be enough.

3. Winter tires, all weathers, or all seasons?

While Quebec is Canada’s only province where the use of winter tires is mandatory, Alberta, Saskatchewan, the Territories, and all four Atlantic Provinces strongly urge motorists to install winter tires with appropriate tread depth.

According to Transport Canada, stopping distance on snow and ice is nearly half on winter tires as compared to all-seasons, greatly reducing the chance of an accident. Remember to change all four winter tires every two to three years, when treads no longer do their job properly.

All-weather tires are a good choice if you live in a milder part of the country with more rain than snow and ice. Know your climate and equip your vehicle for highest level of safety.

4. Consider other drivers and their vehicles

Not everyone has the same level of experience or skill behind the wheel. Not everyone is driving a car in perfect repair.

Remember to leave a bit of extra space between you and the vehicle ahead, allowing for those less experienced drivers and considerably longer stopping distances in harsh conditions.

5. One last thing

It’s a good practice to keep the fluids in your vehicle topped up so there are no nasty surprises. Be sure your windshield washer tank is filled, leaving an extra jug in the trunk, and make it a habit to keep your fuel tank at half full or more in winter. Being prepared, driving safely and considerately, and heeding road conditions will give you more confidence to brave the situation and reach your destination safely.

When all is said and done, accidents still happen. That’s when you will want to reach out to those who can help you. Medical professionals at the site of the accident are there to help you.

The number one piece of advice from the personal injury lawyers at Valent Legal is to take advantage of that medical help early. Experts agree that the onset of soft-tissue symptoms can develop after days, weeks, even months in some cases.

Bonus information

Currently, insurers in Nova Scotia are lobbying the provincial government to cut the amount that can be awarded to someone injured in Nova Scotia by almost half, as well as to add more types of injury into the category “minor injury”, including mental health. Valent Legal advises that you visit Fair Auto Insurance Reform Nova Scotia (FAIRNS) online to educate yourself and also to find a petition fighting the proposal. A detailed discussion paper of the proposed changes can be found online here.

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