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Take our winter driving quiz: Do you stand a snowball's chance?

It's that time of year again, that time between feeling ill from eating too much candy at Halloween and feeling ill from eating too much candy at Christmas. Winter is upon us. Across the country, Canadians are getting hit with the first snowfalls of the year. Soon, even balmy Toronto will be dusted with an inch of ice and snow.

It happens annually and yet we're always a little surprised – and it shows in our driving. Motoring mishaps abound, especially after the first snowfall: fender benders, stuck vehicles, defroster malfunctions. In an attempt to stave off this annual carnage, Road Sage presents a quick quiz to test your readiness for cold weather driving.

Road Sage Winter Driving Quiz

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1.) You wake up to discover that your car has been covered by an overnight snowfall. The least you should do is:a) Turn on the ignition. Fire up the defroster. Go back inside and have breakfast.

b) Wipe an eye-width line across the windshield. Set defrosters to "stun" and take your rolling igloo on the road.

c) Scrape and brush your car free of ice and snow. Stare contemptuously at neighbours.

d) Call in sick.

2.) When your vehicle is stuck in packed snow the appropriate response is:

a) Place both hands on shoulders. Gently roll back and forth while weeping.

b) Sprinkle kitty litter in front of tires because you're the kind of person who keeps kitty litter in their trunk for just such an occasion. Turn on radio. Listen to 94.5 SMUG FM.

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c) Check the tail pipe. If it's clear and you're with someone you have a sexual relationship with or would like to have a sexual relationship with, this is a good chance to make love in your car while you wait for roadside assistance. No risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

d) Dig away excessive snow and ice. Get distracted. Build snow fort. Ambush tow truck driver with snowballs when he arrives.

3.) Should you always install winter tires in sets of four?

a) Not an issue. I drove on my winter tires all summer.

b) My car has front-wheel drive so I only do the front two. And I only brush my front teeth.

c) Okay, let me get this straight … they have tires just for winter? Do they come in red and green? Are they like Christmas tires?

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4.) You wake up to find that the first seasonal snowstorm has hit. How do you adjust your driving?

a) I drive like I always do: I speed, tailgate and don't signal. I listen to A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack while I do it.

b) I adjust my speed to reflect weather conditions and my crushing anxiety. I hunch my shoulders and cling to the wheel like I am hanging off a cliff. That means doing 35 km/h on the highway and a brisk 20 km/h on residential streets.

c) Accelerate like a NASCAR driver and then slam on the brakes over and over until I hit something.

d) None of the above.

5.) How can you prevent your locks from freezing?

a) Never lock your car.

b) WD-40.

c) Apply a reasonably priced olive oil.

d) BIC lighter.

6.) How much should you increase your braking time in hazardous winter conditions?

a) Two times.

b) Five times.

c) Ten times.

d) Not sure – when it snows I'm too afraid to brake.

7.) Is it safe to use cruise control when driving on icy roads?

a) Hey, if you're cruising, you're cruising.

b) It is never safe to use cruise control.

c) If you're on your way to catch a flight to a sunny destination where you are going to take an actual cruise, you're allowed to use cruise control for the sake of symmetry. Otherwise, no.

8.) It's okay to skip your car's winter maintenance because:

a) I skipped its summer maintenance and I don't want summer to think I treat winter better than I treat it.

b) Nothing bad ever happens in winter.

c) That could cost me upwards of $160. Call me frugal but I don't like wasting money on my safety, the safety of my loved ones and the safety of those around me.

9.) True or False? Four-wheel-drive allows you to brake faster in wintry conditions.

a) False. Though its greater traction does allow you to accelerate faster.

b) True. Four-wheel-drive means you can do anything you want. Anything. You. Want.

10.) The forecast is dire. Weather conditions are precarious. What should you do?

a) Hey, I practised my bad driving habits all summer and fall. I'm not going to let a thing like extremely dangerous, unpredictable road conditions stop me from practising them in the winter.

b) Split the difference and cycle around the block without a helmet.

c) Stay home. Watch F1 on television.

Correct Answers: 1) d 2) c 3) c 4) d 5) b 6) c 7) b 8) b 9) a 10) c

Score:

1-3 correct – You need to consider moving to Florida.

4-6 correct – Not bad. You're like the diet cola of winter drivers.

7-10 correct – Nice! You are a WDW (Winter Driving Wonder). You chew icicles and spit out hockey pucks.

*****

If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at globedrive@globeandmail.com.

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About the Author
Road Sage columnist

Andrew Clark, an award-winning journalist, screenwriter and author, is Director of the Comedy Writing and Performance program at Humber College in Toronto. More

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