“If someone is aggressively
tailgating you, don’t get
pressured into speeding.”
— Sharon Richards, AMA Driver Education
doesn’t mean you should travel that fast
during the winter. It’s a limit, not a target:
The posted speed is the maximum speed
allowed during ideal conditions, not
every condition. Driving on a blanket
of snow is not the same as driving on
a dry and bare road. Drivers should be
driving well below the limit, whether in
the city or on the highway. Plus, drivers
shouldn’t feel pressured by those who
won’t slow down. “If someone is aggressively tailgating you, slow down and let
them pass you by. Don’t get pressured
into speeding,” adds Richards.
One way to help ensure you are maintaining a safe speed and being defensive
on the highway is to avoid using cruise
control. “In cruise control, you might
have the tendency to ‘cruise,’ rather than
being totally engaged and paying attention,” explains Paul Oss, Public Affairs
Officer with Alberta Transportation. You
may be less aware of your speed and
there can be a delayed response when
you hit the brake.
plan your route
What you do before you get into your
vehicle can be as important as what you
do behind the wheel. “You have to prepare
yourself for winter driving, and you have
to prepare your car,” says Gardner. “We
see too many people driving with fogged
or icy windows.” Take the time before
heading out to clear your roofs, windows
Brush up on the rules
Regardless of skill or experience, all
drivers should review the Alberta Basic
Licence Driver’s Handbook at least every
five years to keep themselves current,
says Richards. Rules are constantly
changing, and if it’s been years since you
got your licence, it’s probably time to hit
the books. For example, drivers must
now slow to 60 km/h or less when passing emergency vehicles stopped or with
their lights flashing.
Free downloadable copies of the
handbook are available on the Alberta
Transportation website at transportation.
Hands-on refresher training can
also help drivers gain more confidence
and improve their awareness of traffic
hazards and knowledge of new laws.
Many driving schools have special
winter courses designed to give students
the skills they need to stay safe in the
and mirrors of any snow or ice.
“It is against the law to drive when your
windows or windshield are obstructed,”
confirms Oss. “People need to know that is
something they should be very careful of.”
Before leaving on a trip during the
winter, plan your route and give yourself
lots of time to reach your destination.
Oss also suggests you let someone know
where you’re going, your planned route,
destination and expected time of arrival.
Most local radio stations broadcast road
conditions every 10 to 15 minutes, and
municipal websites, such as the City
of Calgary and the City of Edmonton,
display traffic cameras online.
Alberta’s variable weather conditions
(and size) pose a wide range of problems
for drivers. “It could be sunny and dry in
Edmonton, but by the time you reach Fort
McMurray, snow is blowing everywhere,”
says Richards. Before hitting the highway
on longer journeys, it’s good to check road
reports for the entire route so you don’t
encounter unwelcome surprises. “If you
know there’s snow ahead of you, you
can leave earlier in anticipation of slower
driving conditions,” says Richards.
Alberta Transportation’s maintenance
contractors submit road condition information to AMA Road Reports, which are
available online at AMARoadReports.ca.
You can also view 78 highway cameras
across Alberta on the AMA’s website