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Kingston Police share twelve traffic safety tips for the holiday season

With the holidays less than two weeks away, the Kingston Police Traffic Safety Unit has released reminders and tips for safe driving practices during this historically busy travel season.

In the spirit of the season, the following twelve tips were provided by the Traffic Safety Unit:

1. Prepare your vehicle for winter

  • Get a maintenance check to ensure your vehicle is ready for winter with working lights, brakes, wipers, etc.
  • Check your tire tread depth and look for uneven wear. Ensure your tires are properly inflated, as tire pressure can fluctuate with frequent changes in temperature.
  • Keep an ice-scraper and brush in your vehicle along with a winter safety kit in your vehicle that includes items such as a phone with charger, a blanket, first aid kit, shovel, flashlight, jumper cables, and candles with a lighter or matches.
  • Keep your fuel topped up and check your washer fluid level to make sure it is rated for -40 degrees Celsius.

2. Plan Ahead

  • Check the forecast and if bad weather is coming, top up your fuel and pick up any essentials for your home to avoid unnecessary travel. Once the weather and road conditions have turned nasty, consider staying at home and waiting out the storm.
  • If you are travelling to visit friends and family, let others know your itinerary, so someone knows if you don’t arrive at your destination.
  • Avoid rarely travelled back highways and rural routes that may not be as well maintained for winter travel.

3. Keep your vehicle safe

  • Keep your vehicle locked and if possible park in well-lit areas.
  • Do not leave gifts or valuables in your vehicle, especially in plain sight. This may lead to break-ins and theft of your vehicle.
  • Brush snow off the entire surface of your vehicle, scrape ice off your all your window, and remove snow and ice buildup from wheel wells.

4. Wear seatbelts

  • Buckle up before you put the vehicle in drive and ensure all passengers are wearing seatbelts.
  • Make sure children are properly restrained in safety seats that are appropriate for their height and weight. Reference:  https://www.ontario.ca/page/choosing-child-car-seat. Drivers are also responsible to ensure anyone under 16 years of age is wearing a seatbelt.
  • Wear your seatbelt properly. Do not place the shoulder strap under your arm or behind your back, this may cause serious injury in the event of a collision.

5. New and unfamiliar drivers

  • Be patient. Busy holiday roadways make driving more challenging for everyone, especially new drivers and those travelling during the holiday season, who may be unfamiliar with the area.
  • Inexperienced drivers may do something unexpected, however remember any driver can make sudden unanticipated moves.

6. Slow Down

  • You are more likely to lose control and experience serious injury in collisions involving excessive speed.
  • Slow down and be prepared for sudden dangerous driving conditions due to black ice, slush or snow-covered roads. Remember that shaded areas, bridges and overpasses freeze earlier than other sections of road.
  • Avoid using cruise control as you need to be prepared and react to sudden changes in road conditions and traffic flow.
  • Go slow in parking lots where traffic and pedestrians can be coming and going from any direction.

7. Keep Space

  • When following other vehicles you should maintain a minimum of 2 second following distance at city speeds and 3 to 5 seconds at highway speeds. Increase your following distance as road conditions deteriorate from bad weather.  
  • Avoid driving in other drivers blind-spots in case they make a sudden lane change or lose control of their vehicle.
  • When stopped behind other vehicles on a roadway especially at traffic lights, stay back so you are able to see the bottom of their rear tires. This space provides a cushion and/or possible escape route if a vehicle coming up behind is unable to stop.

8. Watch for snowplows and emergency vehicles

  • It’s dangerous to pass working snowplows, be patient and give them space. They will pull off or turn once they reach the end of their route.
  • Slow down and move over when passing emergency vehicles and tow trucks parked on the side of the highway.
  • When emergency vehicle approach, slow down, move to the right side of the road clear of any intersection, and stop.

9. Distracted Driving

  • Focus and stay alert on the road. Put down the phone and don’t drive distracted.
  • Pay attention to the road surface. Asphalt should look grey-white in the winter, black and shiny may indicate the road is covered in ice.
  • Do not set out if you are over tired and if you become tired, stop and take a break.

10. Impaired Driving

  • Being impaired can include alcohol, illicit and legal drugs, prescriptions medications, and even lack of sleep. Impairment of any kind may increase the risk of collision.
  • Tis the season for parties and good times with family and friends, plan ahead and be sure to have a designated driver, or utilize public transportation, a taxi, or a ride share. 
  • Help keep the roads safe for everyone, call 9-1-1 to report any suspected impaired drivers.
  • Young drivers, novice drivers, and commercial drivers, need to be aware that you must have ZERO presence of alcohol and/or drugs in your system while driving.

11. Sudden bad weather

  • If you see bad weather approaching, try to find a safe place to park and wait it out.
  • If you get caught in a bad storm, reduce speed, avoid slamming on the brakes or hard steering adjustments. Again, try and find a safe place to park and wait it out.

12. Stay with your vehicle

  • If you run off the roadway, consider staying with your vehicle, it provides shelter and warmth, and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Turn on your hazards, and make sure your exhaust is clear.
  • If your vehicle becomes disabled, turn on your hazards, raise your vehicles hood, and be cautious with any attempt to flag down passing vehicles.
  • If you are involved in a collision and must exit your vehicle be alert to approaching drivers that may be focused on the crash and not looking for people walking on the roadway.

Kingston Police encourage everyone to drive safely and wish all a happy holiday season.

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