Winter is coming: Know how to stay safe behind the wheel

Winter may officially still be a month away, but you wouldn’t know it by looking outside in many parts of Canada. Much of the country has already experienced a flurry of winter-like weather—well before normal.

In fact, Calgary and parts of Alberta saw their first snowstorm during the last week of September, while much of Manitoba was pummeled with snow in early October. Remembrance Day brought Toronto its earliest snowfall in nearly 70 years. That same snowstorm swept across Eastern Ontario and Quebec, eventually hitting the East Coast with a mixture of heavy snow, rain, freezing rain and ice pellets.

Early winter taking many drivers off-guard

Let’s face it, many drivers aren’t prepared for winter road conditions in November, let alone September or October. Many Canadians were caught off guard, having yet to install their winter tires. And this is creating the perfect recipe for collisions.
Reducing your chances of being in a serious winter car accident starts with proper planning, especially when it comes to driving around railway crossings.
Know your rail-safety basics—no matter what the weather
Freezing rain, snow, sleet and whiteouts can be downright dangerous. But following these simple tips can help keep you safe when encountering train tracks during winter weather:
  • Reduce your speed. When road conditions are poor, it takes longer to stop, especially when driving at night. Always slow down well in advance of a railway crossing.  
  • Avoid distractions. When approaching railway crossings, turn off the radio and heating fans so you can listen for trains. Roll down your window—especially if it’s frosty or foggy—and look both ways before crossing the tracks.
  • Look for railway warning signs and signals—and prepare to stop. Snow may cover train tracks at a crossing, making them look like the road.
  • 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.
Remember, rail safety is everyone’s responsibility. So be rail-smart this winter: Look. Listen. Live.