How To Drive in All Kinds of Weather | Ontario, Canada

September 8th, 2018 by
Jeep Wrangler snow tires

Winter driving gets a lot of attention here in Ontario, and for good reason. Ever watched the news when it suddenly snows in a place where snow isn’t all that common? Chaos. We Ontarians like to pride ourselves on having mad skills in the winter driving department. But it isn’t just winter road conditions that can challenge even the most intrepid driver. With recent record rainfall in Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton, we thought we’d better talk about the other weather-related driving tips that tend to be overshadowed.

Tips for driving in heavy winds
If you’ve ever driven on the Burlington Skyway on a windy day, you know just how intense it can be when your vehicle swings in an unexpected direction due to gusting winds. (There’s a reason they close that bridge when the wind gets crazy.) Wind may be the last weather condition you worry about in your trusty Ram 1500, but it’s still worthy of respect. Strong wind can happen anywhere, but wide-open spaces and elevated bridges pose an added risk. And, believe it or not, tunnels or rock cuts and wind can be a scary combo, acting as funnels.
  1. Prepare for gusts. Both hands should be on the steering wheel, especially if driving a larger vehicle or towing a trailer.
  2. Notice trucks and other larger vehicles. Tractor-trailers and recreational vehicles have a harder time in windy situations due to their length. With more surface area to catch a gust, they may have notable difficulties staying in their lanes. Give them space.
  3. Save that Bluetooth shouting match with the spouse or kids for another day. Not that there’s any good time for distracted driving. Just because you’re hands-free doesn’t mean your attention isn’t divided.
How to drive in heavy rain
There are two main dangers when it comes to driving in a downpour. The first is greatly reduced visibility. Sometimes it rains so hard in the GTA it is just as blinding as a winter white-out. On top of that poor visibility, you also need to know about hydroplaning. (If you’ve had it happen, you don’t need me to remind you how scary and powerless it can feel!) Hydroplaning can occur when you’re traveling too fast in heavy rain. The vehicle’s tires will literally ride on top of a thin layer of water, rather than gripping the road surface. Steering and braking in this instance is difficult-to-dangerous, and losing control of your vehicle can happen, no matter how skilled you may be.
  1. Slow down. No really, slow down. If you don’t want to hydroplane—and you really don’t want to—reduce your speed in heavy rain conditions. If it has only just started to rain, hold back. The combination of fresh rainfall and the oils on roadways can make for dangerously slick conditions that can be just as dangerous as black ice. Wait a few minutes, then hit the road—slowly.
  2. No matter what time of day it is, turn your headlights on. Most new vehicles have an auto-on feature for the headlights, but just in case yours doesn’t, flip em on. Help other vehicles and pedestrians see you coming.
  3. Give everyone extra room. If you’re a tail-gating speed demon, this means you. Even if you’re not, allow extra space between you and the car in front of you in case an unforeseen situation requires sudden breaking.
  4. That road that turned into a river while you were shopping? That underpass that looks like a lake? This is not your opportunity to find out whether your car doubles as an amphibious vehicle. You can seriously damage the sensitive electronic components in your car if they become submerged in water. And until you’re pounding through that puddle, you’ll have no real idea how deep it is. Damage can hover in the thousands, as well as impacting resale value if damp wires and components corrode from undetected moisture. Play it safe and head for higher ground till the deluge passes. Those of you with Jeeps will be tempted to plough through, but be sure you have the adequate trail rating for fording before even testing this out.
How to drive on a sunny day
No, we’re not joking. Just after sunrise and before sunset are two of the most dangerous times of day to drive when it comes to the potential for blinding glare. You know exactly what I mean, Toronto drivers who’ve tried to navigate the 401 or Gardiner Expressway as the sun comes up during the morning commute. While nothing beats a sunny day, you still have to take precautions to avoid becoming one of the “but the weather was perfect, what happened?” collision statistics.
  1. Invest in polarized sunglasses – they can help reduce glare and protect your eyes. Plus, you’ll look even foxier driving that Dodge Hellcat.
  2. Use that sun visor – it’s not just there to store your receipts behind!
  3. Give that driver in front of you extra room. Bright sun in your eyes can make it challenging to see what the car ahead of you is doing. Are those brake lights? As in heavy rain and snowstorms, give fellow drivers plenty of room.
  4. Turn your headlights on; it will help others to see you coming. Keep them clean, too, or turning them on won’t make much difference.
  5. Keep your windshield clean, inside and out, and check for cracks and pitting that could mar your ability to see in super-bright conditions.
  6. Keep the dashboard clear of parking receipts, papers and other debris. (Yes, that includes chocolate bar wrappers.) These can reflect into the windshield and distract your focus.
What is the most dangerous weather condition for driving?
Fog is the most dangerous condition for driving, and if you’ve ever had it overtake a road you’re navigating without warning, you know how scary it can be. It’s very Sherlock Holmes, but also very hard to judge depth and peripherals.
  1. As with any low-visibility conditions, lower your speed and give the person ahead of you extra room in the event that they have to brake suddenly.
  2. Turn on your low-beams. Some car headlights have specialized settings for fog, but most cars have a low-beam setting. Use it. Higher beams of light will bounce back at you in foggy conditions, making it even harder to see.

No matter what the weather, it pays to slow down a little (we know it’s hard), give your fellow weather-navigators some extra space and we’ll all get there safely.

Where is Team Chrysler located?

Team Chrysler is located at 777 Bancroft Drive in Mississauga, Ontario.