Globe and Mail: Megawheels – Clear Vision is Vital In the Wintertime

winter driving in sunshine

Clear Vision is Vital in Winter ConditionsThe Glove and Mail Logo
By Carlos Tomas

It’s harder to see in winter than any other time. And with more than 90 per cent of your decisions riding on vision, even the smallest losses count. After all, how can you possibly control situations if you can’t see?

Here are some of the problems drivers face:

Increased glare. With up to seven fewer hours of daily sunlight than in summer, the sun is in your face during rush hour much more often. Depending more on artificial light, you are subject to a lot more night-time glare. Add the reflection of roads and fresh snowfalls, and visibility may be next to impossible.

Shorter sightlines. Freezing rain, snow and blowing debris dramatically reduce long-range visibility. Night-time whiteouts can leave you with almost no visibility at all. Fog can reduce visibility to 4 per cent.

Impaired vehicles. When compared to daylight, clean headlights reveal only a smidgen of the road. Dirt can rob you up to 90 per cent of the beam strength.

Take time to prepare your vehicle and reduce these effects: check all lights; have your headlights checked for proper aim so they don’t blind the rest of us; check the turn signals as well.

Other things you need to do:

Check the defrosters. Get your radiator coolant tested to ensure that the heater and defroster are in top shape.

Eliminate wiper smear. Replace streaking blades with rubber-encased winter wipers. They don’t freeze.

Brush off all the snow. No one needs your portable blizzard, especially cyclists and pedestrians.

Uncover the windows. How can you see 360 degrees around you through a porthole? Don’t create blind spots that may hide crucial details such as the unlit cyclist.

Clear the windshield. Scrape off all of the ice. Otherwise your wipers are useless and you end up wasting washer fluid. De-ice wiper blades. Wipers need to fit the curve of your windshield to clean properly.

Unclog the jets. Check the operation of your windshield washer jets. These may be cleared with a pin.

Clean the outside mirrors . And avoid damage to the motors by freeing your power mirrors of snow, ice salt and grime.

Degrease interior glass . Window surfaces and rearview mirrors can be easily neglected until nighttime glare assaults your eyes. All glass should be spotless.

Defrost the windows. Use an old credit card as a scraper to clear interior frost. Open windows a crack when carrying several passengers; lively conversations fog up windows quickly.

Wear sunglasses. Reduce eye-fatiguing glare with a good pair of driving sunglasses. These should be of the kind that block out blue rays.

Use the visors – Block out the sun’s glare. Visors are not meant clamping paraphernalia against the headliner.

Eliminate visual clutter. No matter how lucky loose objects on the dash and rearview mirror hangings are, clean sightlines are much luckier.

Save your wiper-motor. Turn off your wipers before shutting off the engine. Otherwise freezing rain can lodge them in midcycle. Restarting the engine can burn out the motor.

Finally, carry washer fluid, a snowbrush, ice scraper, window cleaner, old towels or paper towels, a flashlight and flares.