PREPPING FOR WINTER
FALL IS a great time for a winter vehicle
inspection, where your brakes, filters
and fluid can be checked and prepped
for the upcoming season. And don’t forget to purchase and install four winter
tires. While “all-season” tires are fine
for warmer climates, their rubber compound is not designed to stay pliable in
cold temperatures and the tread isn’t
aggressive enough to bite through snow
and ice, says Spencer McDonald, president of Thinking Driver.
“Having winter tires is the difference
between control and zero control,” adds
driving instructor Claude Bourbonnais.
“Winter tires are only good for two or
three seasons, regardless of the mileage
you put on them. … Over the years they
harden and become slippery.”
Always clean the snow off your car,
including your lights and roof, advises
McDonald. A pile of snow sliding onto
your windshield can blind you; chunks
of snow falling off the back of your car
pose a danger to the person behind
BY WENDY HELFENBAUM
WHEN JOHANNE Vaillant’s car spun out
of control while she was driving home
after a day of skiing, she did what most
drivers do: panic.
“It was freezing rain, and my car
swerved diagonally towards an oncoming
car; luckily, I’d dropped my passenger o;
in the village, because he would’ve been
dead,” says Vaillant, a Costco member who
lives in Hudson, Quebec.
Although Vaillant’s car was totalled,
she walked away without a scratch. However, the accident haunted her until her
husband suggested she take a winter car
control clinic offered by former professional race-car driver Claude Bourbonnais.
Vaillant relived the same skidding on ice
from years before, but this time she
learned how to react correctly and safely.
“By repeating the drills and looking
where I want to go instead of where the car
pulls me, I don’t panic if I start sliding,”
she says. “Taking the course really calmed
All the right moves
After ;; years of racing, Bourbonnais
now runs racing schools, skid-control
clinics and advanced driving programs
for individuals and car manufacturers,
including BMW, Subaru and Mercedes.
“Most people don’t know how to drive,
because they’re not taught about car con-
trol; they’re taught how to obey the law
and pass the driver’s test,” says Bourbon-
nais. “They get on the road with a ;,;;;-
fundamentals around defensive driving:
Think and look ahead, anticipate hazards,
keep your options open, manage the risk
and control with ;nesse,” he says.
One skill, “big-picture seeing,” involves
keeping your eyes moving by looking far-
ther ahead, reading the road surface and
scanning intersections in advance.
“People who crash their vehicles
frequently say, ‘I didn’t see him,’ ‘I had
nowhere to go’ or ‘I didn’t have enough
time,’” notes McDonald. The more space
you have between your car and potential
hazards, the better chance you have to
avoid an accident.
Many drivers instinctively pump their
brakes, which is the wrong thing to do with
an anti-lock braking system, says Bourbonnais. “Keeping your [steering] wheel
straight, just put your foot right down on
the brake pedal and wait for the car to
stop,” he says.
Managing the risks associated with
winter driving means making good
choices, adds McDonald, such as proceeding with caution even if you’re at a green
light, and giving yourself extra time to get
to your destination.
Vaillant now feels confident behind
the wheel, year-round. “I now anticipate
what I should be doing, rather than being
afraid,” she says. C
Costco member Wendy Helfenbaum is a
Montreal-based writer and TV producer
kilogram [;,;;;-pound] vehicle and hope
for the best.”
Faced with winter conditions, motor-
ists brake too hard, turn too fast and lose
control, he adds. “Then, fear takes hold,
and when you have fear, you’re dangerous
out there, because you’re overly cautious
and unpredictable to others.”
Bourbonnais’ classes take place on a
frozen river, where students learn defensive driving manoeuvres, including accident avoidance and skid recovery. “When
you feel the car’s not turning enough, don’t
turn more; let go of the gas,” he suggests.
“Immediately, you’ll regain contact with
the ground, and if the front end isn’t sliding, the rear end cannot slide.”
Learning the fundamentals of good
vehicle control through theory-based and
practical driving courses helps drivers
respond proactively to winter conditions,
says Costco member Spencer McDonald,
president of Thinking Driver (thinking
driver.com), a driver safety training program in Surrey, British Columbia. “Winter
driving is an advanced skill. We teach ;ve
Getting a grıp
YOUR ROAD MAP TO
WINTER DRIVING, SAFELY
Costco and Costco.ca carry a variety of
items necessary for safe winter driving,
such as emergency and ;rst-aid kits, along
with snacks, water and more. Costco’s Tire
Centres can help when it’s time to install
or replace winter tires.
• Traction aids (non-clumping kitty litter
• Window brush and ice scraper.
• Windshield washer fluid.
• Warm clothes and boots.
• Booster cables.
• Flashlight and extra batteries.
• Lighter or waterproof matches.
• Tool kit.
• Safety triangles, cones or flares.
• First-aid kit.