Drivers: Don’t let winter weather get the best of you

Winter can make life challenging for Canadians. If we’re not piling on layers of clothes to keep warm, we’re shovelling mountains of snow, or scraping our windshields every time we need to start the car. But if you live, travel, or work near train tracks, winter weather can be more than just annoying—it can be hazardous.
 
Freezing rain, snow, sleet, and whiteouts can all make getting from point A to point B safely a challenge. In fact, almost 30 per cent of car accidents in Canada happen on snowy or icy roads.
 
Keeping safe is all about following the rules
 
Reducing the likelihood of being in a serious collision in winter starts with proper planning, especially when it comes to staying safe around rail crossings. That’s why Operation Lifesaver Canada is launching new ads this week to remind drivers to be extra cautious around tracks and trains this winter. Follow these tips to ensure you stay safe:
 
Plan ahead. Check the weather forecast before travelling—not only for your current location, but also for your final destination. If conditions deteriorate while you're on the road, stop at the nearest town or rest area and wait until it's safe to drive. And don’t forget to pack a winter car safety kit.
 
Reduce your speed. When road conditions are poor, it takes longer to stop. Always slow down well in advance of railway crossings. The more time you have to react, the better chance you have of avoiding a collision.
 
Avoid distractions. When approaching tracks, turn off the radio and heating fans so you can listen for trains. Reduced visibility and sounds from a storm can make it difficult to see or hear trains coming. Roll down your window—especially if it’s frosty or foggy—and look both ways before crossing.
 
Look for railway warning signals and signs. Snow can make train tracks look like a road. Look for crossing signs and other indications that there are tracks ahead so you can prepare to stop.
 
Use winter tires. They have treads designed to grip ice and snow, so you'll be less likely to slide on the road or into the side of a train. All-season tires can begin to lose their traction when the temperature drops below 7⁰C.
 
Remember, rail safety is everyone’s responsibility. So be rail-smart when you’re on the road: slow down, watch for the signs, and drive safely this winter.