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Driving in whiteout conditions: Dos and Don’ts

ABOVE: Around 9:30am Feb. 27, 2014, a sudden snow squall caused whiteouts and zero visibility on Hwy. 400, leading to a chain reaction collision that caused many wrecks but only 3 minor injuries. Sean Mallen reports.

TORONTO – Driving in winter weather can be tricky – in whiteout conditions, especially.

Ontario Provincial Police say a spate of multi-vehicle collisions show motorists are still not changing their driving habits to take into account poor weather and reduced visibility.

Nearly 100 cars were stranded on an Ontario highway for hours Thursday following a chain-reaction pileup north of Toronto.

A sudden snow squall caused near invisible conditions and police say the cars hit each other one by one and formed an “accordion” for a one-kilometre stretch.

No one was seriously hurt but police say three people were transported to a nearby hospital with minor injuries.

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WATCH: Witnesses describe the 96 car pileup.

Although police and safety officials advise people to stay off the roads in bad weather, there are a few simple tips drivers can follow to stay alive and safe.

According to the Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation, the best thing to do before heading out in your vehicle in the winter is to check the weather forecasts and road reports.

Weather warnings can help you plan your trip and give you a head’s up on upcoming bad weather.

Below is a handy list of Dos and Don’ts:

DO:

  • Slow down gradually and drive at a speed that suits the conditions.
  • Make sure the full lighting system of your vehicle is turned on.
  • Use your low-beam headlights. High beams reflect off the ice particles in the snow, making it harder to see. If you have fog lights on your vehicle, use them, in addition to your low beams.
  • Be patient. Avoid passing, changing lanes and crossing traffic.
  • Increase your following distance. Depending on speed, you will need at least three car lengths to brake safely.
  • Stay alert. Keep looking as far ahead as possible.
  • Reduce the distractions in your vehi­cle. Your full attention is required.
  • Keep your windows and mirrors clean. Use defroster and wipers to maximize your vision.
  • Try to get off the road when visibility is near zero. Pull into a safe parking area if possible.

DON’T:

  • Don’t stop on the travelled portion of the road. You could become the first link in a chain-reaction collision.
  • Don’t attempt to pass a vehicle moving slowly or speed up to get away from a vehicle that is following too closely.
  • Don’t use high beams.

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