Limited daylight, snow and ice, mixed together with some dirty road slush makes for an interesting commute whether you're driving, cycling or walking.
We're all just road users trying to get where we want to go quickly, surely and safely. Yet, on average, 2074 pedestrians and 1097 cyclists were injured or died as a result of a collision with a motor vehicle in Toronto per year between 2008 and 2012.
- Related Read: Accident Prone: When Car Accidents Happen
We know most road users, whether behind the wheel, on two wheels, or on two feet, are cautious in messy weather. You obey traffic lights, you signal properly, you slow down in busy areas and you don't drive/cycle/walk distracted! But here are some tips for taking extra caution on the road to avoid a collision when the weather and roads are less than ideal.
- Don't leave unless the defrost system and windshield wipers are functioning in your car and your windshield is completely clear of ice.
- Fill your wiper fluid tank frequently. One messy day can use up to half a tank of fluid.
- Make eye contact with pedestrians and cyclists to ensure they've seen you and are aware of your vehicle.
- Make sure the way is clear before you pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. They may have stopped to allow pedestrians, who you can't see, to pass. Additionally, give the pedestrian plenty of space and allow them to cross the road fully before proceeding.
- Leave room to react during slippery conditions. Double the two-second rule so you've got plenty of time to safely stop if needed. Also be mindful of empty lanes that you can quickly move into at a moment's notice if you can't brake but need to avoid an accident.
- Stay visible by wearing bright-coloured or reflective clothing, and using bicycle lights (this is the law in some provinces). Use a rechargeable white front light, a red rear light, and reflectors as a back-up.
- Use the road, not the sidewalk, to stay out of walkers' way.
- Leave room to react and brake in slippery conditions.
- Avoid riding through puddles and over snow, which may hide ice, pot holes, or other road hazards.
- When approaching intersections, watch for cars slowing down in front of you in preparation for a right turn.
- Ride at least one metre away from parked vehicles at the side of the road to avoid getting "doored". Look out for people in these vehicles and be prepared to stop suddenly.
- Stay visible to drivers and cyclists by wearing bright colours and reflective material.
- Use winter boots with thick, non-slip rubber soles. Soles with ice grips are helpful in extreme conditions, but become extremely slippery and should be removed when walking on smooth surfaces (like stone, tile and ceramic).
- Walk, don't run, when crossing the street to minimize the chance you might slip.
- While walking, keep your body loose and feet spread apart for stability.
- If wearing a hood that blocks your peripheral vision, put it down when crossing the street to widen your field of view.
- If using headphones, keep them at a low enough level so you can also hear your surroundings/traffic.
A little extra caution goes a long way. Keep these tips in mind to lower your risk of a collision when out and about.