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Winter driving calls for simple safety precautions


The following story was written by Sheena Daly, a student in the Cobourg District Collegiate Institute West writer’s craft class, before Christmas. While the season has passed the safety message is timeless.

Are you running out of time for your Christmas shopping? Are you not finding enough time in the day to get it all done? Risking the bad weather to run your errands? Well it’s time for you to stop. More and more people are driving with their minds in other places due to the stress of the holidays and with Mother Nature’s nastiest time of year there are enough accidents as is. It’s time for society to slow down and take their time driving.

Is it the stress of the holidays or is it the nasty winter weather that causes more and more accidents this time of year? Roseneath paramedic Giselle Philp says, “It can be a mix of emotions. People forget what it’s like to drive in the snow and how little it takes to lose control. Upon arrival of a scene and spending more time with a patient we sometimes learn that the person has been stressed about the holidays and their mind was elsewhere.

“When the first snow fall comes we definitely notice an increase in motor vehicle accidents, most being quite minor. But in the winter it is really hit or miss,” Philp went on to say.

According to, nearly 25% of motor vehicle accidents in 2008 occurred during bad weather, most on wet pavement. Most drivers tend to slow down when there is snow and ice on the roads but when it comes to rain they think they become invincible. I myself just want to get home as quickly as I can after a bad night a work; it’s raining and cold and I just want to be in my bed. Drivers underestimate the power Mother Nature has against us, and how quickly accidents can happen.

So why are we not taking precautions to prevent accidents caused by weather happening? The law of physics tells us that an object in motion continues to stay in motion with the same direction and speed unless it is interfered with by an outside source. For example, if you are going 80 km/h and you swerve off the road, your car will continue to go 80 km/h until you hit something.

Let’s say you hit a tree. Your body will then continue to go 80 km/h until something else interferes with it — say, your seatbelt or an airbag. If you are not wearing a seat belt, or your airbag is not installed, then you are more than likely going to hit the windshield.

Once you’re body stops moving, your brain will continue to move with the same law of physics. Just like when you were eight years old and you spun around and around and once you stopped we were dizzy; you are dizzy after spinning because you’re brain is still trying to catch up to your body.

This is how easily brain damage will occur. Would you rather take seconds to put on your seat belt, or spend years recuperating from a traumatic brain injury? Why put such a high risk on your life just to make it to the mall’s huge “one-time only sale of the year”?

“Get winter tires if it is an affordable option,” Philp advises. “They make a huge difference and it helps already nervous drivers get the confidence they need. Slow down and keep you mind on the road.”

She continues to say “Slow down, relax, don’t drive if you are not emotionally stable, keep you’re phone on silent and give the road you’re undivided attentions. If the weather is bad, don’t go out, waiting is always best.”

Remember to take your time this holiday season. Your family will appreciate that you make it to your Christmas and not that you got their number one present on their wish list that was only on sale for an hour. Give yourself some extra time on the road, you never know what could happen.

Ensure that your car is winter-ready, equipped with winter tires, proper brakes, windshield wiper fluid, etc. Always wear your seatbelt and give yourself extra room away from other vehicles during bad weather. If you are not comfortable with driving in pouring rain, a snow storm, hail, etc. then pull over and wait it out.

Slow down, and drive safe this winter.

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