Vehicles stranded at Reece’s Corners during the 2010 Snow Squall Emergency.
Traffic collisions are the leading cause of death during winter storms.
Please think about that… when you travel after local police have advised drivers to stay off the roads, you are placing your life, the lives of your passengers and the lives of others in jeopardy. When severe weather makes travel difficult, no matter how slippery the roads or how poor the visibility, you as a driver are still responsible for what happens when you are behind the wheel.
Sometimes, the safest decision is to change your travel plans and wait until weather conditions improve and snowplows have had a chance to clear the roads. You can visit the “Track My Plow” website to see where plows are working on Provincial highways. You can also track where the plows have been and even see photos from the cabs of some plows.
However, if you encounter bad weather or road conditions while driving, slow down and allow extra space between you and other vehicles. Many winter collisions occur because drivers are going too fast for road conditions. Make sure you can be seen by ensuring that your headlights and tail lights are on. Some vehicles with day-time running headlights do not have full-time tail lights, so check your vehicle.
If you become stranded, it is often best to stay with your vehicle and wait for help. Make sure you have an emergency supplies kit for these situations.
Remember – If there’s snow, drive slow!
Visit the Ministry of Transportation website for winter driving and road conditions. For current weather forecasts, visit the Environment Canada website.
Download the Winter Driving Tips document for driving tips and a list of items you should include in your winter survival kit.
Prepare for Emergencies on the Road
Maintain your vehicle in good running order and have the condition of your tires and battery checked before winter weather hits.
It is also a good idea to keep your gas tank almost full during the winter and to have extra windshield washer fluid and antifreeze on hand.
Prepare two emergency kits for your vehicle – one to keep in the trunk and the other for the interior.
The trunk kit should include:
- Shovel, sand, or salt, kitty litter or other traction aids
- Tow chain and booster cables
- Warning light or flares
The kit inside the vehicle:
- First-aid kit
- Extra winter clothing, hats and boots
- Matches, candles (in a deep can to warm hands) and an emergency food pack. If you do not already have a cell phone, you may want to consider having one for emergencies.
Winter Travel Tips
- Listen to local weather & road condition reports before setting out on a trip. If travelling long distances, call ahead to your destination for conditions. Visit the Environment Canada Weather Office site or telephone 519-464-5121 for local weather conditions. To obtain information about road conditions, call 511 from a cell phone, or visit the Ministry of Transportation website. If in doubt about weather and road conditions, do not travel.
- Always dress appropriately for the season when travelling (even for local commuting), and bring along suitable clothing in case you have to walk or remain in your vehicle for a long period of time.
- Obey traffic signs and road barricades – it is illegal to go around road closure signs and it is dangerous!
- Carry vehicle emergency kits.
- Always bring essential medications with you in case you become stranded.
- Remember that even a thin layer of road ice, can make untreated roads extremely slippery. Driving is not recommended when freezing rain is forecast. Wait a few hours after the freezing rain ends before heading out, so that road maintenance crews have enough time to treat icy roads.
On the Road
If you must travel during severe winter weather or a storm, do so during the day and let someone know your route and arrival time.
If your car gets stuck in a blizzard or snowstorm, remain calm and stay in your car. Allow fresh air into your car by opening the window slightly on the sheltered side away from the wind. You can run the car engine for about 10 minutes every half-hour if your exhaust system is in good condition and the tailpipe(s) is not blocked by snow. Check the exhaust periodically to make sure it does not become blocked. (Remember: you can’t smell deadly carbon monoxide, but if you smell exhaust fumes, it is a sign of trouble.)
Finally, to keep your hands and feet warm, exercise them periodically. If you do try to shovel the snow from around your car, avoid over-exerting yourself. Keep watch for other traffic and searchers.
Emergency Detour Routes
London Line (County Road 22) is the designated Emergency Detour Route (EDR) for Highway #402 in Lambton County. Traffic is often diverted there following collisions on Highway #402. It should be noted that EDRs are not necessarily intended to address poor weather conditions. In Lambton County, the London Line EDR parallels the #402 within a couple of kilometres, so winter weather conditions affecting Highway #402 are likely affecting London Line. If warnings are issued about poor travelling conditions on Highway #402, London Line and other east-west routes will likely be just as bad or worse. Stay where you are and don’t travel if you don’t have to.