Tag: spring

Spring Driving Safety Tips

Originally posted by Cameron McKay – via ama.ab.ca

We love spring. But we also recognize that the season of warmer weather comes at a price – and mosquitoes are the least it. Most notably, from a road safety perspective, 28% of all fatal collisions in Alberta occur between April and June.

It’s a staggering number that can be reduced with good driver vigilance. Here are some safe driving tips to remember once spring has sprung.

Prep Your Vehicle

Safety begins before you get behind the wheel
  • Replace windshield wiper blades that leave streaks or don’t clear the glass in a single swipe.
  • To ensure visibility during bad weather, keep all headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals clean and functioning. (As a rule, turn on your headlights whenever you drive.)
  • Keep your tires properly inflated and make sure they have plenty of tread. Studies show that a 3 mm-deep tread can stop a vehicle on wet pavement in a 25% shorter distance than a tire with a 1.5 mm-deep tread. Need a new set of tires? AMA members save 5% at Kal Tire.
  • Winter tires should be left on until the ambient temperature stays above 7 degrees Celsius on average.

Look Out for Pedestrians

Warm weather means more people outside
  • Slow down and be extra cautious in pedestrian corridors, playground zones and school zones.
  • If a yellow pedestrian-activated traffic light is flashing, slow to 30 km/h and yield to pedestrians wanting to cross the street. (Not stopping for pedestrians at a crosswalk results in a $776 fine and four demerit points.)
  • Be wary of pedestrians who may be fixated on their electronic devices and aren’t paying due attention to traffic.

Watch for Wildlife

Animals are on the move
  • Be aware that it’s the time of year when animals come out of hibernation and are foraging for food.
  • Many animals are more active at dawn and dusk.
  • Watch for animal-crossing signs, reduce your speed, look well ahead and scan aggressively.
  • Animals often move in groups. If you pass one animal, slow down because there may be more.
  • If it looks like you’re going to hit a large animal, try to strike it at an angle to reduce the chance of it coming through your windshield. Let up on the brakes just before hitting the animal. Statistics show 54% of crashes on Alberta rural highways involve an animal, and 4% of those crashes result in human casualties.
  • In urban areas, you still need to be on the lookout for animals. You may encounter animals roaming near parks, wooded areas, river valleys, open green space, or city outskirts.

Beware of Flooding

Meltwater combined with spring rain can cause localized flooding
  • Never try to cross the flooded section of a road, as the pavement underneath may be washed out. Instead, turn around and look for an alternate route.
  • Avoid driving through large puddles. Deep water can stall your engine, impede your brakes, impair your vision, and even cause the vehicle to hydroplane.
  • When conditions are wet or slushy, drive at a speed whereby you can easily control your vehicle, and maintain a following distance of four to six seconds.
  • Never use cruise control on wet or slippery roads.
  • To reduce the risk of hydroplaning, make sure you have tires with good tread to displace water, lower your speed, avoid hard braking or turning sharply, and try to drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you.

Share the Road

Spring means road maintenance crews, cyclists and motorcyclists
  • Give maintenance crews plenty of space and adhere to all posted speed limit signs in those areas. In construction zones, always obey the flag person’s signal and be prepared to slow down and/or stop when entering work zones. (When workers are present, fines for speeding in construction zones are doubled.)
  • Mirror check, and check your blind spot, prior to all horizontal movement.
  • When turning left, scan for oncoming motorcycles. Motorcyclists can be hard to see, especially in heavy traffic or at night, and are often moving at a faster speed than it appears.
  • To help avoid construction delays, check AMA Road Reports interactive map ahead of time and use an alternate route if possible.

Follow These Tips

Other reminders for spring driving
  • Use low-beam headlights in the rain or fog.
  • Keep your windshield washer fluid topped up.
  • If you can’t avoid a pothole, brake just before impact.
  • In rural areas, scan at least 20 seconds ahead of your vehicle.
  • Stay out of other drivers’ blind spots (particularly semi-trucks and other large vehicles).
  • Obey all speed limits and drive to conditions.
  • On long road trips, schedule a break about every two hours.

Spring Tire-Care Tips to Help You Stay Safe on the Road

Source: By Jeff S. Bartlett via consumerreports.org, March 20, 2019

Winter is tough on tires: Road conditions can be brutal, and temperature swings can often mean your tires have become badly deflated. As spring emerges, potholes often blossom and create their own risks to your tires. That makes this a great time to spend a few minutes checking your tires and making pressure corrections as needed.

“Being proactive with tire maintenance can improve safety and save money in the long run,” says Gene Petersen, Consumer Reports’ tire program manager. “Just a little time spent inspecting can make a big difference.”

If You Have All-Season Tires

Check the air pressure level on your tires and adjust it as needed to the amount specified on the tire information placard found on the driver’s doorjamb. Improper inflation pressure can affect tire longevity and fuel efficiency.

Don’t forget to check the pressure on your car’s spare tire, too.

Inspect your tires for signs of damage, such as cuts, cracks, and sidewall blisters that could result from striking potholes. Some tire manufacturers and retailers provide road-hazard warranties that can save you money if you have to replace a tire.

If there’s irregular treadwear, that can indicate a problem with how well a tire is balanced on its wheel. Coming out of winter, that treadwear can signal that the tires are out of alignment or that the car’s suspension has been damaged. You might experience symptoms of this while you’re driving, such as a shimmy in the steering wheel or the car pulling to either side. Have such issues evaluated by your mechanic, Petersen says.

This is also a good time to check on how worn your tires have become.

Check the tread depth by placing a quarter upside down in a tire groove. The distance from the coin’s rim to George Washington’s hairline is about 4⁄32 of an inch. If you see all of Washington’s head in any one groove where a treadwear indicator appears, you might want to start shopping for new tires while you have some seasonal grip left. They should definitely be replaced by the time they reach 2⁄32 of an inch. Worn tires tend to stop longer on wet pavement and hydroplane on water more frequently—a concern when spring showers may be in the forecast. (Learn more about how tire wear affects performance.)

It may also be time to rotate your tires. This typically needs to happen every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Consult your owner’s manual for guidance on the rotation pattern (front-to-rear, side-to-side) and frequency. Some retailers may provide free rotations to customers. This service not only saves money but also is good encouragement to remain on schedule. Regular rotations keep the tires wearing evenly and can help maximize their longevity.

See Consumer Reports’ complete all-season tire ratings.

If You Have Winter/Snow Tires

As the risk of snow and ice melts away, it’s time to replace your winter/snow tires with all-season tires. Don’t delay: The tread on winter/snow tires wears quickly, and you’ll want to preserve them for future use. On top of that, all-season tires provide better grip on dry and wet roads.

Inspect the tires for potential damage: Check the bead area—the inner lip of the tire that seals against the wheel—if the tires have already been dismounted from the wheel. Sometimes the bead can be damaged in the removal process, creating rips or tears in the rubber.

Like with the all-season tires, check the tread depth with a quarter, placing George Washington’s head down into each major groove. If the top of Washington’s head is visible, there is only about 4⁄32 of an inch or less of tread and the tire might not have enough useful life for another season.

Finally, clean the tires with soap and water to remove salt and/or road de-icer. Store in a cool, dry place—out of the sun. 

See Consumer Reports’ complete winter/snow tire ratings.

Source: By Jeff S. Bartlett via consumerreports.org, March 20, 2019