During the winter, the road ahead can be dangerous. A key reason? Visibility. Mother Nature can throw a number of challenges your way – snow, rain and fog. They all impact your view of the road and can prevent motorists from seeing you. The following tips for drivers will clear the air – and the road ahead.
Whether it’s falling from above or being sprayed from your vehicle or others, snow can quickly build up on your windshield and block your view.
- Before you go, fully defrost all windows and sweep snow from every part of your vehicle – windows, mirrors, lights, wheel wells, and hood. Remove snow from the trailer if a dedicated cleaning platform is available.
- While driving, be ready with your wipers for blowing snow or spray.
- Slow down – keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Approach vehicles such as snowplows, salt or sand trucks with caution. They often spray snow making it tough to see.
Sweep snow from every part of your vehicle.
- When meeting a plow truck:
- Be ready with the wipers (or turn them on in advance).
- Slow down. This gives the operator time to turn off the sand/salt spreader.
- Adjust your lane position to the right to give the truck plenty of room.
- Wear orange-tinted glasses for better vision at night to reduce the glare from headlights and streetlights.
- Change your windshield wiper blades at least once a year. Use a blade that’s encased in a rubber shell to keep the wiper’s framework ice and snow-free. Use a windshield washer fluid with de-icer.
When it comes to visibility rain can be just as dangerous as snow.
- Replace old or brittle windshield wipers.
- Use your headlights to improve visibility, even in light rain or overcast conditions.
- Stay well back from large trucks or buses. Their large tires can spray into your line of vision. If you have to pass, do it quickly and safely.
To this…in a matter of seconds.
When fog appears, visibility can deteriorate instantly. Even slowly creeping along can be dangerous.
- Watch your speedometer. Fog creates an illusion of slow motion – you could be driving faster than you think you are.
Are you driving fast or slow? In fog you never know. Slow down.
- Drive with your headlights on. Use fog lights if you have them. Don’t use your high beams. The fog will reflect the light back to you decreasing your visibility.
- Use your wipers and defrosters for maximum visibility.
- Use the painted road markings at the right of the road as a visual guide.
- Wear sunglasses with polarized lenses in bright daylight conditions to help prevent light from scattering when it bounces off reflective surfaces.
What About You?
You may be able to see others, but can they see you? NEVER ASSUME.
- Drive with your headlights OR fog lights on.
- DON’T use both because it impairs the vision of other motorists.
- Make sure your lights are clean and clear of snow.
- Don’t stop on a highway or busy road. If you stall, turn on your four-way flashers to alert others and move away from your vehicle.
- Wear an acceptable reflective vest.
- Carry a flashlight if you have to exit the vehicle.
Vision and Fatigue
Fatigue can reduce your field of vision, causing you to see less of the road and decreasing your ability to detect other vehicles and hazards that may lie ahead.
- If you get tired stop at a safe location and rest. Even a 20 to 30-minute nap can restore alertness.
- Practice healthy sleep habits — go here for information on how to help you get the rest you need during your off-duty time.
- To minimize visual fatigue, reduce the intensity of your dashboard lights and don’t place items on the dash as they can reflect in the windshield.
Adjust dashboard lights to give your eyes a break.
Whatever Mother Nature throws your way always plan your work route ahead of time.
- Stick to well-travelled roads and avoid routes that could become dangerous.
- Consult with your dispatcher, especially during severe weather advisories.
- Contact other drivers about the latest road conditions.
- Respond to driving messages posted on fixed and digital highway signs.
- Always consider if you have to drive. Can you delay your trip? Even one to two hours can make a difference to visibility.
Know Before You Go
For more information:
- Visit DriveBC.ca for current road conditions.
- Visit ShiftIntoWinter.ca for resources including the winter driving safety toolkit and winter driving safety course.
Download Visibility Brochure [PDF 390 KB]