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11 winter driving tips to keep you safe on Ontario roads

Winter is coming, here are some tips on driving safely on those roads

Ministry of Transportation recommends creating a 'survival kit'

Steven Del Duca, minister of transportation, asked Ontarians to take steps to increase road safety this winter. (John Rieti/CBC)

Whether we like it or not, winter is on its way. Some parts of Ontario are already seeing some snowfall. 

On Monday morning, Steven Del Duca, minister of transportation, joined MPP Indira Naidoo-Harris in Halton to ask Ontarians to do everything they can to keep roads safe this winter.

"We are asking all drivers to be our safety partners this winter," Del Duca said. "Help us keep our roads collision-free by preparing your vehicle, by planning your trip ahead and by slowing down in winter conditions."

Del Duca also said MTO has taken steps to improve its communication with motorists this winter with a more informative website and twitter feed.

Here are 11 tips on safe winter driving.

1. Create a 'survival kit'

Your survival kit should include items such as: gloves, booster cables, small shovel, windshield wiper fluid, first aid kit, torch, snow brush, candles, safety vest, water bottles and non-perishable energy foods. 

Put the kit in the trunk of your car 

2. Check weather and road conditions often

Choose the route you'll take ahead of time and check the weather forecast to make sure you know what to expect before you hit the road. 

3. Keep a safe distance behind snow plows

If you find yourself behind a snow plow, maintain a safe distance. Snow plow drivers do not always have the best visibility and can create clouds of snow that can reduce your visibility, as well.

4. If you don't already have them, get winter tires

They provide better traction, handling and braking and can shorten your braking distance by as much as 25 per cent. All-season tires are not the same as winter tires. They lose their grip when the temperature dips below 7 C. 

Drivers with winter tires are also eligible for an insurance discount starting Jan. 1, 2016. 

5. Slow down and give yourself extra travel time

This one might be obvious — but it's important. Drive according to the road conditions around you and don't rely on the estimated time of arrival your GPS gives you.

6. Clear snow and ice from your vehicle

Make sure you clean all windows, mirrors, lights and the roof. Wait for any foggy windows to clear up so your visibility isn't poor. 

7. Wear comfortable clothes

It's a good idea to layer up in the winter time, but having too many layers can restrict your movement and make it difficult to check your blind spot. 

8. Keep a full gas tank

It can help reduce moisture in the fuel system and also adds extra weight to your vehicle to slow it down. 

9. Keep OPP numbers handy and travel with a fully-charged cellphone

The non-emergency number for the OPP is 1-888-310-1122. For provincial highway conditions, go to www.ontario.ca/511 or call 511.

10. Avoid using cruise control on slippery roads

It's easy to lose control of your vehicle in bad weather if you rely on cruise control. 

If driving conditions are really bad, or in the event of a serious ice storm or blizzard — just avoid driving altogether. 

11. Figure out the best way to recover from a skid for your vehicle

How your vehicle responds to a skid depends on whether or not it has rear wheel, front wheel or four wheel drive. If your vehicle has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), learn how to use it correctly.

Check out this Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) brochure to figure out what will work best for your vehicle.

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