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Baby it's cold outside, but are Ontario drivers prepared?
-- TD Insurance Winter Driving Poll reveals how Ontarians get ready for snow on the roads --
TORONTO, Dec. 17, 2012 /CNW/ - Having to navigate slushy and slippery roads, it's no surprise that one quarter of Ontario drivers (23%) admit they feel scared, anxious or uneasy when driving in winter. Yet with more snow and sleet in the forecast leading up to the holidays, a new poll by TD Insurance has found many drivers are not taking all the precautions they can to stay safe and keep calm on the roads this season.
According to the poll, 54% of Ontario drivers don't carry an emergency kit in their car, 32% don't get their car serviced before the season begins, and 43% don't use snow tires in winter, despite the fact that 69% say they would feel safer driving this winter if other drivers had winter tires on their car.
"Winter driving can be stressful for even the most experienced driver, but if you are prepared with the rights tools and knowledge you will feel more confident and better equipped to drive in winter weather," says Dave Minor, Vice President, TD Insurance. "For example, an emergency kit in your car that includes a few basics - like a snow shovel, ice scraper, blanket, flashlight and even some cat litter for traction - can be crucial in helping you navigate your way safely out of an accident."
As auto insurance claims spike during the winter, Minor also recommends drivers review their policies before the season to ensure their coverage still reflects their needs. However, the poll found that although 95% of Ontario drivers say that auto insurance is an extremely or very important tool to help overcome the challenges of winter driving, only 14% of drivers review their auto insurance before winter hits.
"It's unrealistic to know your policy line-by-line, but it's important to familiarize yourself with your coverage so there are no unpleasant surprises down the road," says Minor. "For example, check your policy for what type of incidents you are covered for and what your excess would be if you were in an accident. Remember to notify your insurer of any installs or upgrades to your car, too."
As Ontarians hit the road to visit friends and family over the festive season, Minor provides his top tips for drivers on how to arrive safely at their destination:
- Prepare your vehicle for winter: Before the cold weather hits, make sure you get a maintenance check-up. Ensure your battery or radiator is ready for sub-zero weather. Invest in a set of winter tires and check the pressure often. Don't forget to clear all the snow and ice off your car to increase visibility, and adjust your seat, headrest, seatbelt and mirrors to a comfortable position.
- Check the forecast: The safest strategy is to avoid driving in bad winter conditions altogether. But if you have to hit the roads, Environment Canada issues warnings when it expects blizzards, heavy snow, freezing rain and other bad weather that you should check before you go. Seventy-four per cent of Ontario drivers check the weather and road conditions before getting in their car and 86% give themselves more time to get to their destinations.
- Fuel up: It's never a good idea to let your fuel run low. Not only could you be left stranded, but it can also do serious harm to your car. A full tank can help minimize condensation, prevent the gas line from freezing, and can even provide additional traction if you hit a patch of black ice.
- Pack extra: On a snowy or windy day, it's easy to use up a few litres of windshield washer fluid to maintain visibility, so keep extra in your vehicle. Pack an emergency kit, and don't forget a fully-charged cell phone.
- Remember the two-second rule: According to the poll, 87% of Ontario drivers leave more room between their car and the car in front in winter. To ensure you leave adequate room, pick a marker on the road ahead, such as a road sign or lighting. When the back of the vehicle in front of you passes the marker, count 'one thousand and one, one thousand and two'. If you reach the same marker before you finish counting, you are following too closely.
- Familiarize yourself with what to do if you're in an accident: Stay calm and safe, report the accident to your local emergency services if necessary, exchange information with other drivers involved, take photos, and contact your insurance company. Always report a car accident to the police if someone is injured, or if the damage is over the provincial limit (e.g. in Ontario the limit is $1,000).
- Review your insurance: In addition to knowing about policy coverage, ask if your provider offers roadside assistance, which can be particularly useful in the colder months. Completing a winter driving course can show you additional techniques to stay safe during winter months, and it may also save you money on your insurance premiums.
About the TD Insurance Winter Driving Poll
TD Insurance commissioned Environics Research Group to conduct an online custom survey of 1,005 Canadian residents aged 18 and older who have driven a motor vehicle on Canadian roads in the past 12 months, including 249 respondents in Ontario. Responses were collected from November 7 to 14, 2012.
About TD Insurance
TD Insurance offers a wide range of products to help protect clients from the 'accidents of life' including credit protection, auto, home, health, life, and travel insurance. With more than 3 million clients, TD Insurance authorized products and services are available through a network of more than 1,150 TD Canada Trust branches, the Internet and telephone. For more information, visit www.tdinsurance.com
SOURCE: TD Insurance
Liz Christiansen / Caitie Wallman
Paradigm Public Relations
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TD Bank Group
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