Best practices for driving safe in spring
In Canada, we face the most extreme weather. Winter can be as low as -40 C (even colder with the wind chill) and summer can be as high as +40 C. That's an 80 degree difference, which is hard on the roads and our cars. It also creates new challenges for us in each season, since we have to get used to the quirks and challenges of driving during that season. In summer, we face the blazing hot and blinding sun. In the winter, we barely maintain control on snowy, icy roads.
But what about the spring? As short of a season as it is in Canada, it still presents its own unique challenges. Here are some top tips to driving safer in springtime.
• Remember the temperature differential between day and night. The day time can be sunny and warm, but the nights can be still quite cold. As a result, the roads can still be icy when we leave the house for work in the morning, even though the weather only seems to be "jacket weather". Adding to the challenge is the fact that snowmelt can turn to water and run off of lawns and onto roads throughout the day and then freeze into deadly ice at night.
• During the day, vast amounts of water melting from the snow can lead to roadway flooding, which can cause your car to hydroplane, or can mask potholes in the road. Drive carefully when you see standing water!
• Snow banks might be melting, but they can still be tall enough for a child to go completely unseen until it is too late. And with the weather as nice as it is, children are more likely to be outside anyway. So drive cautiously and expect children to dart out from anywhere.
• Early morning fog from the sun and the humidity can decrease visibility. Be sure to drive with your lights on.
• Don't neglect scraping off your windows of any ice that accumulated overnight. By springtime, no one wants to do it but an icy window reduces visibility.
• Increasing day light hours might mean that you are driving into the sun in the morning or into the sun at night, or you face the rapidly changing light conditions of driving during dusk. As a result, your ability to see far in front of you isn't easy, and it changes every day.
• Now that winter is over, cyclists are reappearing on the street. Cars no longer have to share the road with other cars but also with bicycles -- some of whom obey the rules of the road and some who do not.
Spring is a wonderful time because the cold, dark winter is giving way to the warm sun and the promise of a wonderful summer. But springtime can be a challenging time to drive. Be careful on those roads!
You can view the Next Car Talk item: What does the future of safe driving look like?