Estevan and most of southeast Saskatchewan was hit with an early blast of winter this week. With some freezing temperatures and more white stuff expected by the end of the week, it appears the early winter will be sticking around for a few more days.

A major nuisance with the frigid prairie winters is the often formidable driving conditions. Although it’s the first week of October, a reminder for safe winter driving tips never hurts.

Tyler McMurchy, Manager of Media Relations for SGI, has some tips to keep everyone safer on the slippery roads.

“The most important thing when it comes to Winter driving is when conditions are not ideal, you have to adjust your speed accordingly. The posted speed limits are for ideal road conditions,” he said. “If the road is slippery or extra crowded, you need to adjust your speed and following distance to make sure you can account for anything unexpected to happen. You want to make sure you have adequate time to react.”

Slowing down when approaching intersections and in general is a good habit for winter driving. However, sometimes that isn’t enough. In extremely slick conditions it can be your tires who save you from an accident.

“Winter tires are a significant investment, but for people who are considering them, we definitely recommend them. They do increase the level of traction and control when you are driving on icy conditions,” McMurchy explained. “They can be the difference between skidding through an intersection or coming to a stop in time and avoiding a collision.”

Obviously one of the most important aspects of driving is being able to see. That is extra critical come winter time. McMurchy says taking the extra time before getting into the car is beneficial.

“Visibility is key, if you can’t see where you’re going or what other people on the road around you are doing, you are not operating at an optimal level of safety. We do advise people to clear snow from their vehicle and make sure their windows are completely scrapped and defrosted before they drive,” he said.

“Just as important as being able to see, is being able to be seen. That’s why we recommend people turn their headlights on anytime visibility is poor. Some vehicles don’t have tail lights on when daytime running lights are being used. You’ll also want to clear snow away from your tail lights and headlights to make sure they are as visible as they possibly can be,” McMurchy added.

These basic steps can help lead to a much safer driving experience. McMurchy also added a point of taking extra precautions on highways when there are adverse conditions. He warned against using cruise control come winter time.

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