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Consumer group issues warning after driver slams into snowplows on Hwy. 407

A consumer group is warning drivers to be more cautious when hitting the roads in freezing conditions, and are providing tips on how to safely navigate slippery roads.

“Everything in slick conditions takes longer so leave yourself that room. It not only gives you that room, but it protects you from other drivers that may not be driving appropriately,” Jennifer Stockburger with Consumer Reports said.

Consumer Reports has an auto test centre where drivers cars for winter driving, braking and skid control.

Most newer cars come with a sensor to tell you the outside temperature, and while it’s not always completely accurate, it’s a good idea to check it every time you drive in the winter. The dashboard may also have a flashing light to let you know when the roads may be icy.

The warning comes in the wake of Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) sharing a video of a car that lost control on Highway 407 on Tuesday, crashing into a snow plow and causing a major delay on the roadway. OPP used the video as a reminder of the $325 fine for passing snow plows.

OPP Sergeant Kerry Schmidt called it frustrating that some drivers have not slowed down to adjust to the freezing, slippery conditions.

“This car comes slamming into the back of them and gets tangled up and shuts down the entire snow plow operation,” said Schmidt.

Schmidt posted a video of the accident on social media and added, “dozens of drivers just do not realize that the roads are slick and when conditions change you need to adjust your driving and you need to do that in advance of getting into trouble.”

He adds drivers can face icy conditions when the temperature dips to 0 C, or when it’s close to freezing.

Consumer Reports said that four-wheel or all-wheel drive can help when it’s slippery, but it’s actually anti-lock brakes that help you safely regain control and stop. You’ll know they’re working when they pulsate against your foot, and when they do you should maintain firm pressure on the pedal and let them do their job.

If your car does begin to slide, Stockburger advises this is the best way to regain control.

“There are really two kinds of skids, oversteer and understeer. In both cases, the reaction should be to turn in the direction you want the car to go. With oversteer, it’s very intuitive. you turn into the skid and when you gain grip you end up going where you want to go.”

“In understeer, you’re turning, but the car is going straight ahead and your gut wants to dial in more steering. Don’t do that. Keep the wheel steady where you’re headed so that when you gain grip, you are going where you want to be,” said Stockburger.

No matter what tires you have, make sure they’re properly inflated with good traction as they can make a difference when winter weather is at its worst. 

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