December 21 2016

Winter Driving Tips for Pedestrians, Motorcyclists, and Motorists

Edmonton winters can be beautiful, but they can also be dangerous. Snow piles up on the road; blizzards impair drivers’ vision, and ice makes it easier for cars and motorcycles to skid and pedestrians to slip.

Fortunately, car accident fatalities usually decrease during the winter. More people stay inside instead of risking bad weather, and most people drive slowly in bad weather.  However, accidents tend to increase on the first day or two after a snowstorm as drivers adjust to the new weather conditions.

Not all accidents can be avoided, especially when you’re the victim of a negligent driver. But there are steps you can take to keep yourself and others on the road safe this winter. Read on for some ways to stay safe, whether you’re a pedestrian, motorcyclist, or motorist.

Pedestrian Winter Safety

Walking outdoors is a wonderful way to stay healthy during the winter. But hidden hazards like ice and slick piles of compact snow can make walking dangerous, especially at crosswalks.

To stay as safe as possible, you should only cross at designated intersections within clearly marked crosswalk boundaries. Make sure you are visible at all times, and never cross illegally or without a walk signal.

To increase visibility, wear bright, light coloured clothes and consider reflective accessories, especially from dusk to dawn. This is especially important for people who walk to work in the early morning or late afternoon when it is dark. If you are a runner who refuses to let winter get in the way of your chosen activity, reflective gear (like that shown in the video below) can make all the difference in making you visible when it counts.

Motorcyclist Winter Safety

Make sure your bike is ready for winter riding including getting winter tires for heavy snow.

Motorcyclists are already less visible to drivers than other cars. And visibility only decreases further in winter light, due to the reflection of the snow. Like pedestrians, motorcyclists should do everything in their power to be visible to cars: wear reflective jackets or vests and signal turns and lane changes clearly.

Maintain a longer distance between yourself and cars. Staying farther back than you usually would will help you avoid riding in the spray from other cars and more cushioning space gives you the time and room to manoeuvre if an unexpected obstacle arises.

Along with reflective jackets or vests, wear winter-appropriate clothing to stay warm while on the road. Layer for warmth. Invest in a good set of winter boots and gloves, and wear a windproof, waterproof top layer. Most importantly, wear your helmet at all times.

Look ahead—around 4.5 metres—to see what’s approaching on the road. Snow and ice make slowing down more difficult; looking ahead helps you calculate your future moves to avoid unexpected dangerous situations.

Clean your bike and perform regular maintenance throughout the season. The salt used to melt ice and snow can damage your motorcycle, especially the brakes. Rinse your bike down more often than you do in the summer and keep it well maintained all winter long.

Need more tips for riding safe (and warm)?

Click here for 10 tips from the motorbikewriter.com.

Motorist Winter Safety

The most important thing you can do to stay safe this winter is slow down. While speeding is always dangerous, it is especially so during winter driving conditions. Your visibility will be lower and snow and ice increase the time it takes for you to reach a complete stop. Braking too quickly can also cause you to skid. Drive under the speed limit in particularly dangerous conditions.

You should also increase the distance between yourself and other cars to compensate for the increased braking time.

Before you hit the road, check that your vehicle is completely clear from snow and ice. Scrape ice off the windows and brush snow off the top and hood. Snow left atop the car can blow off while driving, obscuring your visibility and creating hazards for other drivers.

You should also invest in a good pair of winter tires before the first snowfall. These tires will give you better traction and cut down on your chances of skidding. Tire pressure decreases more rapidly in cold weather than in hot, so check your tire’s air pressure at least once a month.

Transportation Alberta has put together a useful list of Alberta winter driving tips HERE.

As the driver of a vehicle, you also have a particular responsibility to keep pedestrians and motorcyclists safe during the winter. Be aware and respectful of pedestrians and motorists by following these tips:

How to Keep Pedestrians Safe

Cars should begin to slow down well before reaching traffic lights, stop signs or crosswalks. Drivers should also check for pedestrians before pulling through an intersection to make a turn. Make a conscious effort to be aware of pedestrians before proceeding through an intersection.

How to Keep Motorcyclists Safe

Always be aware of the motorcyclists around you. Give them a wide cushion in which to manoeuvre. Never tailgate them or make them feel crowded. Always signal your lane changes well in advance.

Enjoy a Safe Winter

No matter your preferred mode of transportation, following these tips, you can help you avoid the worst winter driving pitfalls. However, if you are injured in a winter driving accident, Contact Us for a free consultation on your options and how we can help you through your recovery process.