Study Guide: Challenging Conditions

Challenging Driving Conditions

You must turn your headlights on when you are driving at night or at any time when you cannot see clearly 150 meters (500 feet) in front of you. Daytime running lights are not bright enough to be used at night. They are too dim and the tail-lights and instrument panel lights will not be on. You may not be able to see your dash.

Always use your low beam lights if there is oncoming traffic, even if there is a barrier or divider between lanes

• Make sure your headlights are not aimed so they are bothering the other people on the road
• Make sure to wipe off your headlights and keep them clear.
• Don’t look directly at oncoming headlights as they can have a momentary blinding effect.

Drive so that you’ll be able to stop within the distance of your headlights.

If glare from the sun makes it difficult to see the road, then reduce speed. It’s a good idea to carry sunglasses when on the road.

Bad Weather Conditions

In smoke and fog, use low beam headlights, as high beams reflect the light back at you, creating glare. If visibility becomes so poor that it is no longer safe to continue driving, slow down and move your vehicle well off the road to a safe location. Turn on your hazard lights (four-way flashers). Do not attempt to drive until conditions improve. If a safe place to park is not available, ensure that you and your passengers move to a safe location away from the vehicle in case it is hit.

Black ice is caused by moisture freezing on the road surface. Often a driver cannot see it as it blends in with the asphalt. However, if the asphalt looks shiny and black instead of grey-white, be cautious, and reduce your speed without braking. Often, it is impossible to tell if there is black ice.

Be careful going through shaded areas, as they can retain ice after ice elsewhere has melted.

Bridges also tend to get slippery and have black ice easier than patches. Try to use extra caution on bridges because of this.

When it is raining, use low beam headlights. High beams reflect the light back to you and create glare. Your vehicle can also be sprayed with water and mud, interfering with your view through the windshield and windows. Be careful not to splash other vehicles and pedestrians.

Use low beam lights when raining, because, just as with fog, the rain reflects light and causes glare. There can also be mud on your headlights and windshield reducing visibility. Also, don’t splash pedestrians and other vehicles on the road.

On wet roads, your tires may lose contact with the road surface. This is called hydroplaning. The loss of contact between the road surface and your tires can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

If this happens, don’t brake. This is a similar situation to skidding. Much like skidding, if this happens don’t brake. Lightly release pressure from the gas and aim the front of your car where you want to go.

Winter Driving

During the winter you can experience poor weather conditions that can make driving more dangerous. Winter conditions include freezing rain, very low temperatures, blowing snow, high wind chill, blizzards, and heavy snowfalls.

During the winter months, the roads can get pretty dangerous because of snow and ice.
Maintain your vehicle and have it serviced before winter arrives. Be sure that your vehicle’s battery, tires, exhaust system, windshield wipers, and heating system are in good working condition.

Intersection areas may become icy more quickly because of vehicle exhaust, engine heat, and vehicles spinning their wheels or skidding. Allow more for this and make sure to give larger stopping distances.

When the temperature rises to the point where the snow begins to melt, roads can become very slippery. A thin layer of water is formed on the surface of the road when the frost comes out of the ground.

Ensure your vehicle’s windows and windshield are not obstructed by snow, frost, steam, mud, or anything else that may make driving the vehicle dangerous.

Make sure to clear off any snow on your car before hitting the road.

What to Do if Stranded

If you find yourself stranded off the highway and your vehicle is in a safe place, it is usually safer to stay with your vehicle. Run the engine just enough to stay warm. Keep the vehicle ventilated while the engine is running. Open a window a small amount to assist air circulation to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide can get into your vehicle from a leaky exhaust system. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that is colourless, odourless, tasteless, and very dangerous. Be sure your exhaust system is checked whenever you take your vehicle in for servicing.

The winter in Calgary, AB can be very intense. Bring clothing to keep you warm such as a coat, toque, scarf, and mittens. It’s also a good idea to have road salt, a shovel, a heat source, an ice scraper, and tire chains with you on the road in wintertime.


To make it less probable you’ll hit an animal:

• Go slowly and look well ahead to avoid animals
• Look at the sides of the road for animals
• Dusk and dawn are the worst time for animals, they tend to be out and about more during this time.
• Look for spots of light on the road, this could be the animal’s eyes reflecting headlights
• Some animals move in groups, look for more if you see one

If an animal pops out in front of you, brake hard and swerve out of the way and out of the way of oncoming traffic.


If you are the first person at the scene of a collision, stop away from the collision in a safe location. Offer assistance if possible. Protect the scene with flashing hazard lights and warning triangles so that other vehicles do not become involved. If it is necessary to notify the police or emergency medical services, be as accurate as you can, especially about the condition of any injured people and the location of the collision.

Here’s what to do if you are involved in a crash:

• Get the contact information and insurance information of all drivers involved.
• Look for witnesses and record their contact information.
• Don’t go into who’s at fault.
• Record all the details you can.
• Get a hold of the insurance company as soon as possible.

If someone is injured or killed, you must call the police. If there has been more than $2,000 of damage to a vehicle, the police must be called. If the police are called, all drivers must stay at the scene.

If you damage any traffic control device, a parking meter, or any public property, you must report this to the police immediately, even if the damages are less than $2,000.

You must notify the owner of an unattended vehicle of any damage caused through a collision. If you are unable to locate the owner, you must securely attach your contact information to the other vehicle. This must include your name, address, driver’s license number, vehicle plate number, phone number, and the vehicle plate number of the damaged vehicle.

Emergency Vehicles

When driving, incidents may cause the lanes of the roadway to be blocked or narrowed. Some examples of this are traffic collisions, disabled vehicles, spilled cargo, and highway maintenance or construction.

There are times when the roadway is consolidated into fewer lanes, like collisions or construction.

The flashing lights of emergency vehicles will warn you of a problem ahead. Reduce speed, carefully change lanes if necessary and be prepared to stop. Follow directions given by emergency personnel directing traffic. Be aware that the vehicle ahead of you may stop or reduce speed unexpectedly to view the scene.

One of the most serious problems associated with these types of incidents is the risk of response personnel or equipment being struck by passing vehicles. Services that typically respond to highway incidents include:

• Law enforcement
• Ambulance
• Fire
• Towing

Motorists must reduce speed to 60 km/h or the posted speed, whichever is lower when passing emergency vehicles or tow trucks that are stopped with their lights flashing. This law applies to the lane(s) immediately next to the stopped vehicles. The fine for speeding in these areas is doubled.

The highest risk in these types of situations is to workers or emergency responders being hit by oncoming vehicles. Reduce your speed to 60 km/hr. Speeding fines are doubled in these areas. Be watchful and cautious even if you are not required to slow down in your lane.

<< Multiple Lane Driving     Stopping the vehicle quickly >>