Winter Safety Saves Money AND Lives – Part 1
Even though we all know it’s coming, the sudden arrival of accumulated snow on the roads in Southern Ontario always manages to throw us for a loop. Traffic grinds to a halt every year for the first snowfall and it takes us all a few weeks to remember how to drive safely in the winter. For now, you can console yourself with the knowledge that at least we’re not in Buffalo!
As you may already know, at Auto Loan Solutions we are big proponents of the financial benefits of safe driving, especially as it lowers the overall cost of vehicle operation. If you have ever crunched the numbers in a car loan calculator, you know that the loan itself is only part of the equation. The insurance, maintenance and fuel costs will combine with the car loan to make up the overall cost of operating that vehicle. While you may not be able to affect the loan payment itself, especially if you have qualified for a bad credit car loan, you CAN practice safe winter driving to help lower your operating costs.
Stay Visible at All Times
Have you ever seen a car driving around with a blown headlight or taillight and wondered how anyone could not notice? You’d be amazed at how easy it is to go months without detecting a burned out bulb. Think about how often you see the outside of your car while the engine is running. It doesn’t happen much, does it? Proper vehicle maintenance is an important component of saving money through safe driving. A quick check around your vehicle with the lights on will let you know if any of the bulbs need replacing. Don’t forget to check the signal lights while you’re at it, and ask someone else to have a look at the back of the car while you apply the brake pedal to check the brake lights.
How does this save money? The fine for driving with a burned out headlamp in Ontario is $95, a not-insignificant ding to your pocketbook but it’s not the end of the world. However, an improper lane change, which is what you could be charged with if your turn signal bulb is burned out, is at least $85 PLUS three demerit points. That’s right, demerit points, those tricky, seemingly little things that can make a big difference for your auto insurance rates.
Driver Training, Snow Style!
If you are a newly-licensed driver, this week’s snowfall was probably your first encounter with winter driving in Ontario. Did you have fun? When you’re a new driver, or a new Canadian who has loads of experience, but have never seen anything like this before, we have some bad news for you… It’s only going to get worse. Winter driving is an acquired skill that requires practice and a sixth sense about the new stopping distance your vehicle requires in slick conditions. You can try to figure it out yourself through trial and error… OR, you can register for one of the many excellent programs around the GTA specifically designed to help experienced drivers learn to handle winter driving conditions. While you don’t get the same insurance savings as new drivers taking a training course, you may be able to deduct the cost of winter driving school from your income taxes. And you will drastically reduce your odds of sliding into a pole, a pedestrian, or another car.
Disrobe Before Long Trips
Sounds freaky, but really we just mean that you should remove long, heavy winter clothing before you set off on your journey. It will only take the car a couple of minutes to heat up, and you will be a lot more comfortable on a long drive if you’re not wearing a bulky coat. Plus, you’ll have an easier time steering if you don’t have masses of downy fabric in your way.
Removing bulky clothing in the car is EXTREMELY important if your passengers are travelling in a car seat. The bulky material can affect the safe operation of the car seat by artificially loosening the straps. In hard braking conditions, the fabric is compressed leaving the child improperly restrained. Warm up the car in advance if you must, put an extra layer of fleece on the baby over the straps, do whatever you have to do to keep your littlest passengers safe and warm. This one might not save much money, but it can save someone’s life.
Heed Travel Warnings
Every once in a while, municipal authorities in the Greater Toronto Area and the surrounding communities in Southern Ontario will recommend a halt to all non-essential travel to allow road crews a chance to get caught up on snow clearing and road salting. Before you hop in your car and head off to the grocery store in poor road conditions, ask yourself if that travel is really necessary. Surely it’s worth having a can of soup for dinner to give our hardworking street cleaners a chance to make the roads safer for you and everyone else, right?
No matter how bad the driving conditions may seem when the weather outside is frightful, remember that bad weather also affects transit riders. If you would rather not spend another winter freezing while waiting for a bus, but don’t think you can qualify for a bad credit car loan, there is no time like the present to challenge that assumption. Try the easy online application form from Auto Loan Solutions to see if you can at least spend your time stuck in winter traffic in the comfort of your own vehicle.
Would you like more tips on safe winter driving? Stay tuned for our next post where we’ll discuss the safety equipment you just can’t live without. While you wait, please consider sharing this post with your friends and family to help keep them safe this winter.
How do you manage safe driving in the winter months? Come share your best tips with the growing online community on our Facebook page.