The winter of 2017 may soon be over but that doesn’t mean that safety takes a back seat. It’s for this reason that the Ministry of Transportation is advising Ontario’s road users to get themselves – and their cars – property outfitted for whatever Mother Nature has up her sleeve.

Steven Del Duca, Ontario’s Minister of Transportation, stressed that keeping the province’s highways and back roads free from accidents – or limiting them as much as possible – will require a group effort.

“We’re committed to improving road maintenance every year, but keeping our roads safe is everyone’s responsibility,” Del Duca explained. “We’re asking drivers to do their part by planning ahead, driving carefully in winter conditions and staying well back of working snow plows.”

Officials in Ontario have a goal of making the province home to the safest roads in North America. In some respects, plenty of work needs to be done before this feat can be fulfilled. Earlier this month, the Ontario Provincial Police reported that over 1,500 people were killed on area roads between 2011 and 2015. Virtually all of the deaths were preventable, as the vast majority of the crashes were behavior related.

Winter driving collisions down 52 percent
During the winter, though, fatal collisions have slid significantly. From 2002 to 2013, deadly accidents have decreased by more than 50 percent, government data shows. This is due in no small measure to motorists increasing their vigilance and driving more cautiously when the roads are slick. Road crews are helpful as well, as an average of 1,000 snowplows and salt spreaders are dispatched over the course of a cold weather season.

The following are a few basic winter driving recommendations from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation that can help get you and your family where you need to be this winter without incident.

When snowfall is brisk, don’t take the risk
Perhaps the most important component of winter driving is knowing when not to take the chance. Thanks to more highly refined snow tires and improved handling, many of today’s vehicles are more of a match for winter’s wrath. But it requires a deft hand to drive when there’s heavy snowfall and these safety devices aren’t in place. If you have a bad feeling about driving when the weather isn’t cooperating, it’s far better to be safe than sorry.

Keep car well stocked
Traction on the roads is severely curtailed when the temperatures are below freezing and snow is coming down. But winter’s wrath can also be exhibited via windy conditions and teeth-chattering temperatures. Keep a blanket in the car at all times over the next several months should your car break down when the mercury plunges. You should also have booster cables that can provide your car with the jumpstart it needs when attached to the engine of another automobile.

Install winter tires
In several parts of Canada, winter tires aren’t just a good idea to use, they’re required. Having a quality set installed not only provides peace of mind but can shorten braking distances by as much as 25 percent.

Assemble winter survival kit
Cold temperatures aren’t merely uncomfortable, they can be deadly when people are exposed to them over a prolonged period. Put together an emergency kit and stick it in the trunk for safekeeping. Ideal items to include are gloves, a flashlight, reflective vest, first aid supplies and a 72-hour supply of nonperishable food and water.

Check out the Ontario Ministry’s website for other tips to stay safe, warm and dry while you’re out on the roads in the coming months.

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