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TSQ (January 01, 2011)

MILTON, Ont. -The holiday season is finally here and with it comes a group of uniquely Canadian traditions: sappy Tim Horton's commercials to tug at your heartstrings, Christmas music at the mall on H...


MILTON, Ont. -The holiday season is finally here and with it comes a group of uniquely Canadian traditions: sappy Tim Horton’s commercials to tug at your heartstrings, Christmas music at the mall on Halloween, moving weekend barbecues from the backyard to the garage, and, of course, the inevitable 10-car pile-up on the evening of the first snowfall.

There’s nothing quite like a little of the white stuff in the air to make drivers lose all sense of, well, good sense. With that in mind, we stopped by the Fifth Wheel Truck Stop in Milton, Ont. to ask drivers to give their top tips for safe winter driving.

Vincent Vineuve, a driver with LFO Transport in Valley Junction, Que., has only been driving for about a year-and- a-half, but has already learned something with his brief experience driving a truck in winter.

“When you drive on the snow, do not jerk the wheel. This is a risk to do a jackknife. Your wheels on the front will lose traction and you will do a jackknife on the road and crash your truck,” he told Truck West.

For car drivers, Vineueve says their poor driving habits around big trucks are not limited to just the winter season. “Sometimes they pass in front of me in my blind side on the right side of the truck and you can’t see them if they are too close. Just look and make sure you are seen by the driver. You have to see the driver, and the driver needs to see you.”

Vasu Moray, a 19-year veteran driving with Burnac Produce out of Vaughan, Ont., urges caution for truckers this winter.

“You have to have space because you cannot follow vehicles too closely, and other vehicles should also not follow too closely to a big truck,” he says. “Always put your truck in a low gear in winter when you’re loaded heavy. We have to be very cautious, otherwise, when it is icy, you can turn the wheel and put on the brakes, but the truck will keep going. New drivers, mostly, have to be cautious in winter when driving during bad weather. Take lots of time to reach your destination.”

William Jukes, a driver with McConnell Transport, Woodstock, N.B., says speed is the main factor truckers should consider when driving in snowy conditions.

“Just slow down. Do not let your RPMs get up too high because then you’d start spinning. As long as you are not in too high or too low a gear you’ll be fine,” he said.

As for car drivers, Jukes would like to see them lay off the handheld devices during the holiday season. “I would like to see them not texting or using their cell phone while they’re driving. That is the biggest problem because they don’t pay attention to where they’re going or what they’re doing and they get into all kinds of trouble.”

Robert Barnes, a driver with Celadon Transport out of Detroit, Mich., warns that black ice can be deadly in the winter, so he has a trick he tries to use whenever possible.

“It’s better to drive during the day than the night because at least in the daytime they don’t have the salt trucks out there and you can see what’s going on. That is what I normally do,” Barnes said. “I look at the weather report. If I can beat the storm, that’s fine, but if you can’t beat the storm then you’ve got to slow down or you’ll wind up in the ditch.”

Barnes also reminds car drivers that 4WD doesn’t make you invincible in stormy weather.

“When it is snowing, with four-wheel- drive it still doesn’t make a difference: you have to slow down and you have to give each other enough space that you can stop. If not, then you’re going to run into people.”


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