6 ways to overcome low visibility driving conditions on the road
Friday, January 17, 2014
As many automotive experts in Canada will attest, winter tires perform a great deal better than all-season tires, particularly when driving over roads glazed with ice or covered with snow, as the grooves provide the added traction a car needs to avoid slipping and sliding.
But, when the snow is coming down in sheets and visibility conditions are limited, not even the most highly adhesive set of wheels will help motorists avoid a crash and potential car insurance claim if they can't see.
With this in mind, Wheels.ca automotive guru Ian Law provided Canadians with some helpful tips for how they can ensure that when they're on the road this year and the snow is falling, that they have a wide, open sphere of vision.
- Properly maintain windshield blades. The windshield wipers are the first line of defense when there's heavy precipitation, but they will do little good if they continue to be used when they're losing their effectiveness. Law noted that tell-tale indications of when it's time to replace them is if they leave streaks when they're engaged that won't go away. Ideally, a new set of wipers should be installed once a year, though the ultimate determinant should be performance.
- Use high quality fluid. Wipers are often only as good as the fluid used to clean the windshield. But, the liquid that's used is especially important in the winter, as high quality options contain substances that help to melt snow and ice. Law stated that the best fluids are those that have a freezing point of minus-45 degrees Celsius. It should say on the bottle itself what the freezing point is.
- Ensure sprayers aren't clogged. Even the best liquid in the world won't be of much use if it can't be sprayed. That's why Law advised checking the washer nozzles to keep them free of snow and ice, which can build up and clog, often times when they're needed most. While you're at it, remove ice that's accumulated in the wipers as well.
- Use products that 'wick' away water. Many of today's windshield wipers are pre-treated so that when it snow or rains, the water beads up and rolls off. Using products like Rain X and Rain Away are ideal to improve a windshield's wicking ability, particularly if they haven't been treated before, according to Law.
- Remove snow from car - all of it. Virtually everyone has observed a fellow commuter who only removes enough snow from their car so that they can see out the windshield. Law noted that not only is this dangerous for other commuters, but the risk of built-up snow falling from the roof and onto the windshield looms large. It's important to clear all snow cover from the car before getting on the highway.
- Have sunglasses within reach. A pair of shades is typically connoted with the summer, but they're especially vital to have in the winter. The sun that beats down on newly fallen snow reflects, and so much so that the brightness can be blinding. Law noted that there are many great types but polarized sunglasses are particularly effective at dimming conditions.
Long-time residents of Alberta know that blinding snowstorms can be quite common in the province, as this is the peak season for the weather phenomenon known as the Alberta Clipper. These fast-moving storms typically form in the province for which it's named when two low-pressure weather systems merge from the Pacific Ocean and Western Canada. Though they are usually brief in duration, they're often accompanied by snow squalls.