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Steering clear of accidents this winter

By: Josie Hammond-Thrasher

I admit it—when it comes to winter, I’m a wimp. I’m trying not to play the pacific princess card (I grew up in New Zealand and moved to Edmonton from Fiji in 2009. Seriously—Fiji!) but Alberta winters aren’t for the faint of heart.  Leaving the discomfort and dangers of sub-zero temperatures aside, sometimes just driving from point A to point B in winter can feel like an epic journey.

Next month my teen-aged twin daughters will sit behind the driver’s wheel for the first time, filling me with concerns about their safety. Think I’m overreacting? Think again! Young drivers between the ages of 15 and 24 suffer the highest casualty rates of all drivers involved in collisions, according to Alberta Transportation. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for young people in Canada.Girl_Broken_Down_Car_in_Winter_SMALL

Winter driving tips

While I need to support my daughters’ growing independence, I also need to help them understand the potential dangers they face. Below are some of the tips and websites I’ve shared with my girls to help keep them safe on the roads this season—I hope they’ll help you steer clear of winter accidents, too.

Be prepared. When it comes to winter driving, prevention is the key to staying safe.

  • Check your tires. Properly inflated tires give you the best traction and handling on icy roads. And if you can afford it, installing a set of winter tires will improve your vehicle’s stopping speed and time.
  • Keep an emergency kit in your trunk. Not sure what winter essentials you’ll need if your car breaks down? Watch this emergency kit video from the AMA.
  • Plan your trip. Alberta’s winter conditions can change very quickly—make sure to check the weather and road reports before hitting the road.

Start early. Collisions, snow plows, stalls, white-out conditions, cautious new drivers (like my daughters)—you never know what you’ll encounter each time you head out on winter roads. Make sure to give yourself extra travel time to get to work.

Slow down! If it looks like you won’t make it to work on time—don’t speed to beat the clock. Speeding led to one third of fatal collisions in Alberta last year.

Stay alert. To stay focused on the roads, avoid cruise control and distractions like cell phones and eating in the car. Most importantly, don’t drink and drive—20 per cent of fatal crashes in Alberta last year involved a driver who had drunk alcohol before driving.

And remember, if you feel your vehicle slipping on an icy patch—don’t slam on the brakes! Watch this video to learn about driving in icy conditions:

work smart. work safe. drive safe.

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