Driving at night and in bad weather
At night and in weather conditions such as rain, snow or fog, you cannot see as far ahead, even with headlights. Slow down when driving at night, especially on unlit roads, and whenever weather conditions reduce your visibility.

Overdriving your headlights
You are overdriving your headlights when you go so fast that your stopping distance is farther than you can see with your headlights. This is a dangerous thing to do, because you may not give yourself enough room to make a safe stop. Reflective road signs can mislead you as well, making you believe you can see farther than you really can. This may cause you to overdrive your headlights if you are not careful.
 

 
Glare
Glare is dazzling light that makes it hard for you to see and be aware what others around you are doing. It can be a problem on sunny and overcast days, depending on the angle of the sun’s rays and your surroundings. Glare can also be a problem at night when you face bright headlights or see them reflected in your rear view mirror.
When meeting oncoming vehicles with bright headlights at night, look up and beyond and slightly to the right of the oncoming lights. In daytime glare, use your sun visor or keep a pair of good quality sunglasses in your vehicle. When you enter a tunnel on a bright day, slow down to let your eyes adjust to the reduced light. Remove your sunglasses and turn on your headlights.
Cut down glare at night by following the rules of the road for vehicle lights. Use your low beam headlights within 150 metres of an oncoming vehicle or when following a vehicle within 60 metres. On country roads, switch to low beams when you come to a curve or hilltop so you can see oncoming headlights and won’t blind oncoming drivers. If you can’t see any headlights, switch back to high beams.
 
 

 
Fog
Fog is a thin layer of cloud resting on the ground. Fog can reduce visibility for drivers, resulting in difficult driving conditions.
The best thing to do is to avoid driving in fog. Check weather forecasts and if there is a fog warning, delay your trip until it clears. If that is not possible or you get caught driving in fog, there are a number of safe driving tips you should follow.
If visibility is decreasing rapidly, move off the road and into a safe parking area to wait for the fog to lift.
 
 
Tips for Safe Driving in Fog
Before you drive — and during your trip — check weather forecasts. If there is a fog warning, delay your trip until it clears, if possible. If you are caught driving in fog, follow these safe driving tips:
DO:
  • Slow down gradually and drive at a speed that suits the conditions.
  • Make sure the full lighting system of your vehicle is turned on.
  • Use your low beam headlights. High beams reflect off the moisture droplets in the fog, making it harder to see.
  • If you have fog lights on your vehicle, use them, in addition to your low beams. They could save your life.
  • Be patient. Avoid passing, changing lanes and crossing traffic.
  • Use pavement markings to help guide you. Use the right edge of the road as a guide, rather than the centre line.
  • Increase your following distance. You will need extra distance to brake safely.
  • Look and listen for any hazards that may be ahead.
  • Reduce the distractions in your vehicle. For example, turn off the cell phone. Your full attention is required.
  • Watch for any electronically-operated warning signs.
  • Keep looking as far ahead as possible.
  • Keep your windows and mirrors clean. Use your defroster and wipers to maximize your vision.
  • If the fog is too dense to continue, pull completely off the road and try to position your vehicle in an area protected from other traffic. Turn on your emergency flashers.
DON'T:
  • Don't stop on the travelled portion of the road. You could become the first link in a chain-reaction collision.
  • Don't speed up suddenly, even if the fog seems to be clearing. You could find yourself suddenly back in fog.
  • Don't speed up to pass a vehicle moving slowly or to get away from a vehicle that is following too closely.
REMEMBER:
  • Watch your speed. You may be going faster than you think. If so, reduce speed gradually.
  • Leave a safe braking distance between you and the vehicle ahead.
  • Remain calm and patient. Don't pass other vehicles or speed up suddenly.
  • Don't stop on the road. If visibility is decreasing rapidly, pull off the road into a safe parking area and wait for the fog to lift.
  • When visibility is reduced, use your low beam lights.
 
 

Rain
Rain makes road surfaces slippery, especially as the first drops fall. With more rain, tires make less contact with the road. If there is too much water or if you are going too fast, your tires may ride on top of the water, like water skis. This is called hydroplaning. When this happens, control becomes very difficult. Make sure you have good tires with deep tread, and slow down when the road is wet.
Rain also reduces visibility. Drive slow enough to be able to stop within the distance you can see. Make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition. If your wiper blades do not clean the windshield without streaking, replace them.
In rain, try to drive on clear sections of road. Look ahead and plan your movements. Smooth steering, braking and accelerating will reduce the chance of skids. Leave more space between you and the vehicle ahead in case you have to stop. This will also help you to avoid spray from the vehicle ahead that can make it even harder to see.
Stay out of puddles. A puddle can hide a large pothole that could damage your vehicle or its suspension, or flatten a tire. The spray of water could splash nearby pedestrians or drown your engine, causing it to stall. Water can also make your brakes less effective.
Flooded roads
Try not to drive on flooded roads - water may prevent your brakes from working. If you must drive through a flooded stretch of road, test your brakes afterwards to dry them out.
Test your brakes when it is safe by stopping quickly and firmly at 50 km/h. Make sure the vehicle stops in a straight line, without pulling to one side. The brake pedal should feel firm and secure, not spongy — that’s a sign of trouble. If you still feel a pulling to one side or a spongy brake pedal even after the brakes are dry, you should take the vehicle in for repair immediately.
 

 
Skids
A skid happens when your wheels slide out of control on a slippery surface. Skids can involve the front, rear or all four wheels. Most skids result from driving too fast for road or traffic conditions. Sudden, hard braking, going too fast around a corner or accelerating too quickly can cause your vehicle to skid or roll over.
Once in a skid, steer in the direction of the skid. To do this, look where you want your vehicle to go and steer toward that spot. Be careful not to over steer. If you are on ice, skidding in a straight line, step on the clutch or shift to neutral.
Threshold braking — Threshold braking should bring you to a reasonably quick controlled stop in your own lane, even in slippery conditions. Brake as hard as you can without locking up or skidding the wheels. Press down on the brake pedal, trying to get as much braking power as possible. Then, if you feel any of the wheels locking up, release the brake pressure slightly and re-apply. Don’t pump the brakes. Continue braking this way until you have brought the vehicle to a complete stop. Some vehicles have anti-lock brake systems that give you a maximum threshold stop automatically.
Anti-lock brakes — If your vehicle has an anti-lock braking system, practice emergency braking to understand how your vehicle will react. It is a good idea to practise doing this under controlled conditions with a qualified driving instructor.
Anti-lock braking systems, which are also called ABS, are designed to sense the speed of the wheels on a vehicle. An abnormal drop in wheel speed, which indicates potential wheel lock, causes the brake force to be reduced to that wheel. This is how the anti-lock braking system prevents tire skid and the accompanying loss of steering control. This improves vehicle safety during heavy brake use or when braking with poor traction.
Although anti-lock braking systems help to prevent wheel lock, you should not expect the stopping distance for your vehicle to be shortened. Under normal driving conditions, on clean dry roads, you will notice no difference between vehicles with anti-lock braking and vehicles without anti-lock braking.
Some drivers, unfamiliar with anti-lock braking, are surprised by the vibration that happens when they brake hard in an emergency. Make sure you know what to expect so you can react quickly and effectively in an emergency.
 

 
Snow
Snow may be hard-packed and slippery as ice. It can also be rutted, full of hard tracks and gullies. Or it can be smooth and soft. Look ahead and anticipate what you must do based on the conditions. Slow down on rutted, snowy roads. Avoid sudden steering, braking or accelerating that could cause a skid.
Whiteouts
Blowing snow may create whiteouts where snow completely blocks your view of the road. When blowing snow is forecast, drive only if necessary and with extreme caution.
 
 
 
Tips For Driving In Blowing Snow And Whiteout Conditions
Before you drive - and during your trip - check weather forecasts and road reports. If there is a weather warning, or reports of poor visibility and driving conditions, delay your trip until conditions improve, if possible. If you get caught driving in blowing snow or a whiteout, follow these safe driving tips:
DO:
  • Slow down gradually and drive at a speed that suits the conditions.
  • Make sure the full lighting system of your vehicle is turned on.
  • Be patient. Avoid passing, changing lanes and crossing traffic.
  • Increase your following distance. You will need extra space to brake safely.
  • Stay alert. Keep looking as far ahead as possible.
  • Reduce the distractions in your vehicle. Your full attention is required.
  • Keep your windows and mirrors clean. Use defroster and wipers to maximize your vision.
  • Try to get off the road when visibility is near zero. Pull into a safe parking area if possible.
DON'T:
  • Don't stop on the travelled portion of the road. You could become the first link in a chain-reaction collision.
  • Don't attempt to pass a vehicle moving slowly or speed up to get away from a vehicle that is following too closely.
REMEMBER:
  • Watch your speed. You may be going faster than you think. If so, reduce speed gradually.
  • Leave a safe braking distance between you and the vehicle ahead.
  • Stay alert, remain calm and be patient.
  • If visibility is decreasing rapidly, do not stop on the road. Look for an opportunity to pull off the road into a safe parking area and wait for conditions to improve.
  • If you become stuck or stranded in severe weather, stay with your vehicle for warmth and safety until help arrives. Slightly open a window for ventilation. Run your motor sparingly. Use your emergency flashers.
  • Be prepared and carry a winter driving survival kit that includes items such as warm clothing, non-perishable energy foods, flashlight, shovel and blanket.
 
 Ice
As temperatures drop below freezing, wet roads become icy. Sections of road, in shaded areas or on bridges and overpasses, freeze first. It is important to look ahead, slow down and anticipate.
If the road ahead looks like black and shiny asphalt, be suspicious. It may be covered by a thin layer of ice known as black ice. Generally, asphalt in the winter should look gray-white in colour. If you think there may be black ice ahead, slow down and be careful.
 

Snow plows
Snow removal vehicles are equipped with flashing blue lights that can be seen from 150 metres. A flashing blue light can only be used on snow removal vehicles.
Flashing blue lights warn you of wide and slow-moving vehicles: some snow plows have a wing that extends as far as three metres to the right of the vehicle. On freeways, several snow plows may be staggered across the road, clearing all lanes at the same time by passing a ridge of snow from plow to plow. Do not try to pass between them. This is extremely dangerous because there is not enough room to pass safely, and the ridge of wet snow can throw your vehicle out of control.

 
 

Dealing with emergencies
 
If you drive often or travel alone, you need to be ready to deal with emergencies. The Ontario Provincial Police video Travelling Alone gives many valuable safety tips. While the video is aimed at women, the information is useful for everyone. Contact your local OPP detachment for more information.
Here are some suggestions for coping with some common road emergencies:
If your brakes fail
Try pumping the brake pedal to temporarily restore hydraulic brake pressure. If this does not work, apply the parking brake gently but firmly while holding the release button. It is a good idea for new drivers to practise a parking brake emergency stop under controlled conditions with a qualified driving instructor. Total brake failure is very rare on modern vehicles. If your brakes do fail and you manage to stop, do not drive away. Call for help.
 

 
If your gas pedal sticks
First try to lift the pedal by slipping your foot under it. Do not reach down with your hands while the vehicle is moving. If this does not work, turn on your four-way emergency flashers, shift to neutral and stop as soon as you safely can, preferably off the road. Turn off the ignition and do not drive away. Call for help.
 

 
If your headlights go out
Check the switch immediately. If the lights stay out, turn on your four-way emergency flashers and bring your vehicle to a safe stop, off the road. Call for help. It is dangerous and illegal to drive at night without lights.
 
If you have trouble on a freeway
At the first sign of trouble, begin to pull over. Do not wait for your vehicle to stall on the freeway. Check your mirrors, put on your four-way emergency flashers, slow down, and pull over to the nearest shoulder as quickly as possible. Never stop in the driving lanes.
Be careful getting out of your vehicle. If possible, leave through the door away from traffic. If you need help, get back in the vehicle and put a “Call Police” sign in the side or back window. If you do not have a “Call Police” sign, tie a white cloth around the antenna. Do not raise the hood.
While you wait for help, stay in your vehicle with the doors locked. If someone stops to help, ask them to call the police or automobile club for you. If you have a cellular phone, call for help yourself.
The Queen Elizabeth Way, the 400-series freeways, and many other high-speed roads are patrolled by the Ontario Provincial Police. Stay with your vehicle and help will arrive shortly.
If your wheels go off the pavement
Don’t panic. Grip the steering wheel firmly. Take your foot off the gas pedal to slow down. Avoid heavy braking. When the vehicle is under control, steer toward the pavement. Be prepared to correct your steering and increase speed when your wheels are fully back on the pavement.
 

 
If a tire blows out
Blowouts can cause tremendous steering and wheel vibration, but don’t be alarmed. Take your foot off the gas pedal to slow down and steer the vehicle firmly in the direction you want to go. Bring the vehicle to a stop off the road.
 

 
In a collision where someone is injured
St. John Ambulance recommends that all drivers carry a well-stocked first aid kit and know how to use it. Think about reading a book about first aid or sign up for a first aid course. It could mean the difference between life and death in a collision.
Every driver involved in a collision must stay at the scene or return to it immediately and give all possible assistance. If you are not personally involved in a collision, you should stop to offer help if police or other help has not arrived.
In a collision with injuries, possible fuel leaks or serious vehicle damage, stay calm and follow these steps:
1.     Call for help or have someone else call. By law, you must report any collision to the police when there are injuries or damage to vehicles or other property exceeding $1,000.
2.     Turn off all engines and turn on emergency flashers. Set up warning signals or flares or have someone warn approaching drivers.
3.     Do not let anyone smoke, light a match or put flares near any vehicle in case of a fuel leak. If any of the vehicles is on fire, get the people out and make sure everyone is well out of the way. If there is no danger of fire or explosion, leave injured people where they are until trained medical help arrives.
4.     If you are trained in first aid, treat injuries in the order of urgency, within the level of your training. For example, clear the person's airway to restore breathing, give rescue breathing or stop bleeding by applying pressure with a clean cloth.
5.     If you are not trained in first aid, use common sense. For example, people in collisions often go into shock. Cover the person with a jacket or blanket to reduce the effects of shock.
6.     Stay with injured people until help arrives.
7.     Disabled vehicles on the road may be a danger to you and other drivers. Do what you can to make sure everyone involved in a collision is kept safe.
In a collision where no one is injured
Follow these steps in a collision where there are no injuries:
1.     If the vehicles are driveable, move them as far off the road as possible - this should not affect the police officer's investigation. This is especially important on busy or high-speed roads where it may be dangerous to leave vehicles in the driving lanes. If you cannot move the vehicles off the road, set up warning signals or flares far enough away to give other traffic time to slow down or stop.
2.     Call police (provincial or local, depending on where the collision takes place). By law, you must report any collision to the police when there are injuries or damage to vehicles or property exceeding $1,000.
3.     Give all possible help to police or anyone whose vehicle has been damaged. This includes giving police your name and address, the name and address of the registered owner of the vehicle, the vehicle plate and permit number and the liability insurance card.
4.     Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of all witnesses.
5.     If damage is less than $1,000, you are still required by law to exchange information with anyone whose vehicle has been damaged. However, the collision does not have to be reported to the police.
6.     Contact your insurance company as soon as possible if you intend to make a claim.