coming back alive
A Man's Dreams Crushed

A young man's dreams of reuniting with his family in Canada were forever stolen when the man, a cab driver, was killed after he lost control of his car on icy roads.

Attiq Ur Rahman, a 35-year-old Advance Cab Co. driver, was killed instantly when his car spun out of control, jumping the median before being T-boned by an oncoming car.

The woman driving the Mustang that hit him suffered a broken wrist.

"It's a very, very sad situation for everybody, thank God (the woman's) life was saved," the cab company's owner, Balwinder Sahota said yesterday. "Attiq's dream was to bring his family here to settle.

"We can't make up for the loss but can support them in this hard time."

Sahota and friends were in touch with relatives in the Pakistan village where Rahman's wife and children -- a boy and girl aged four and five -- live.

Winter driving can be extremely dangerous, and even experienced drivers can find themselves spinning out in bad weather. The best way to avoid getting into an accident is to avoid driving in inclement weather or when roads are icy.

If you must drive however, remember the following tips for safe winter driving and you will increase your chances of arriving alive.

Be Prepared

Preparing your vehicle for winter driving

Reliable transportation is especially important in the winter. Not only should you keep your car in top operating condition all year round - for safety and fuel economy, it is especially important to get it winterized to avoid any unpleasant or dangerous situation while traveling in frigid weather. Check the following:

  • Ignition system

  • Fuel system

  • Belts

  • Fluid levels

  • Brakes

  • Exhaust system

  • Wiper blades and windshield washer fluid

  • Snow tires

  • Tire tread and pressure

  • Defroster

  • Proper grade oil

  • Cooling system

  • Battery

  • Lights

  • Antifreeze

Always fill the gasoline tank before entering open country, even for a short distance, and stop to fill-up long before the tank begins to run low. Keeping your tank as full as possible will minimize condensation, providing the maximum advantage in case of trouble. 

A Citizens Band (CB) radio and/or cellular phone can be very useful to you or another stranded motorist in case of an emergency.

icy road
Icy roads can be a driver's worst nightmare, causing skids and accidents. Be prepared for the possibility of sliding off the road.
Drive Smart: Use Common Sense

Be alert, well-rested and sober behind the wheel. Check mirrors and environment controls before you start. Don't forget to wear your seat belt and to ensure all children are correctly positioned in appropriate child car seats and booster seats. Children aged 12 and under should ride properly buckled up in the back seat.

Check weather and travel conditions before heading out. Give yourself extra time for travel and, if weather is bad, wait for conditions to improve. Plan your route and let someone know which way you'll be traveling, your destination and expected arrival time, especially when driving long distances.  

  • Try to keep to the main roads and drive with caution, measuring your speed to road and weather conditions.

  • Avoid passing another vehicle, if possible, when weather and road conditions are bad.

  • Wear warm clothes that do not restrict movement.

See and be seen. Clear all snow from the hood, roof, windows and lights. Clear all windows of fog. If visibility becomes poor, find a place to safely pull off the road as soon as possible. It's best to stop at a rest area or exit the roadway and go to a protected area.

If the roadside is your only option, pull off the road as far as you can. Other drivers frequently strike vehicles parked at the side of the road. In reduced visibility, you should make sure your emergency flashers are on to alert other drivers.

Winter Car Kits

It's a good idea to keep a winter survival kit in your vehicle. Having essential supplies can provide some comfort and safety for you and your passengers should you become stranded.

Recommended items:

  • Ice scraper/snowbrush

  • Shovel

  • Sand or other traction aid

  • Tow rope or chain

  • Booster cables

  • Road flares or warning lights

  • Gas line antifreeze

  • Flashlight and batteries

  • First aid kit

  • Fire extinguisher

  • Small tool kit

  • Extra clothing and footwear

  • Blankets and sleeping bags

  • Non-perishable energy foods - e.g. chocolate or granola bars, juice, instant coffee, tea, soup, bottled water

  • Candle and a small tin can

  • Matches

If You're Stranded.

In case you're stranded while driving in winter:

  1. Stay in your vehicle. Walking in a storm can be very dangerous. You can lose your way, wander out of reach, become exhausted, collapse and risk your life. Your vehicle itself is a good shelter.
    Don't overexert yourself trying to move the car.
  2. Avoid overexertion. Attempting to push your car, trying to jack it into a new position or shoveling snow takes great effort in storm conditions. You could risk heart attack or other injury.

  3. Calm down and think. The storm will end and you will be found. Don't work enough to get hot and sweaty. Wet clothing loses insulation quality making you more susceptible to the effects of hypothermia.

  4. Turn on the car's engine for about 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater when the car is running. Also, turn on the car's dome light when the car is running.

  5. Keep fresh air in your vehicle. It is much better to be chilly or cold and awake than to become comfortably warm and slip into unconsciousness. Freezing-wet or wind-driven snow can plug your vehicle's exhaust system causing deadly carbon monoxide gas to enter your vehicle.

  6. Don't run the engine-unless you are certain the exhaust pipe is free of snow or other objects. Keep the radiator free from snow to prevent the engine from overheating.

  7. Keep your blood circulating freely by loosening tight clothing, changing positions frequently and moving your arms and legs. Huddle close to one another. Rub your hands together or put them under your armpits or between your legs. Remove your shoes occasionally and rub your feet.

  8. Hang a brightly colored cloth on the radio antenna and raise the hood. This will signal to passing cars that you are in need of assistance.

If you have access to a telephone, you should dial 911 to summon help. When you talk with authorities, be prepared to:

  1. Describe the location, condition of your companions and the trouble you are experiencing.

  2. Listen for questions.

  3. Follow any instructions. You may be told you should stay where you are to guide rescuers or to return to the scene.

  4. Do not hang up until you know who you have spoken with and what will happen next.

If You're Stuck

If you find yourself stuck, here are some things to try.

Do not continue to spin the wheels. It will only make things worse.

Pour sand, salt or gravel around the drive wheels to give them something to grab onto and improve traction.

Also, shovel snow away from the wheels and out from under the car to clear a pathway.

Dangerous Driving Conditions

Winter driving is a tricky and dangerous business. Better roads, better cars and better tires won’t take the place of careful driving practices. To keep your experience with winter driving from becoming a crash-course, here are a few driving tips:

Ice/Freezing Rain:

  • At 0 degrees Celsius ice is twice as slippery as it is at -20 degrees.

  • Be careful when approaching shaded areas, bridges and overpasses, as these sections of road freeze much sooner in cold weather and stay frozen long after the sun has risen.

  • Watch out for black ice—areas of the road that appear black and shiny and where your vehicle can lose traction suddenly. If you hit an unexpected patch, don’t try to brake, accelerate or downshift. Let up on your accelerator and let your vehicle "roll" through the slippery area.

  • When freezing rain is occurring resulting in icing conditions, please pull over to the side of the road until the road has been treated with sand and salt.

    When traversing a snowy road, drive slowly and try to avoid quick braking.

Snowy Roads:

  • Snow on a road may be hard-packed and slippery as ice. It can also be rutted, and full of hard tracks and gullies. Or, it can be smooth and soft.

  • Wet snow can make for slushy roads. Heavy slush can build up in the wheel wells of your vehicle, and can affect your ability to steer.

  • Remember, look ahead and adjust your driving to the road and weather conditions. Slow down, avoid sudden turns of the steering wheel, and sudden braking and accelerating that could cause a skid.


  • Your owner’s manual will usually recommend the braking technique most effective for your car.

  • For front and rear wheel drive vehicles with disc or drum brakes the National Safety council recommends the following procedure: Squeeze your brakes with a slow, steady pressure until just before they lock.

  • When you feel them start to lock, ease off until your wheels are rolling; then squeeze again.

Skid Row
Snow Tire Tips

As a general rule, to maintain control and stability of your vehicle you should install identical tires on all wheels. Avoid mixing tires with different tread patterns, internal construction or size, unless specified by the vehicle manufacturer.

The traditional wisdom from the days when almost all vehicles were rear wheel drive (RWD), was to mount two snow tires for winter driving on the drive wheels. The rationale was that this would provide the best forward traction.

Tread safely through the snow on snow tires. Make sure that you mount four snow tires for maximum effectiveness.

However, the driving dynamics of Four Wheel Drive vehicles in conditions of poor traction are very different from those of RWD vehicles.

Vehicles equipped with FWD need both linear (forward) traction, and lateral traction, particularly on the rear wheels, to prevent spin-out and loss of control.

For safe operation in snow, FWD vehicles should be equipped with four good snow tires — two on the front for linear traction, and two on the rear for lateral traction to control skid and spin-out


It can be scary to lose control of your vehicle. Plan ahead for an emergency situation and be prepared for the conditions you will face while driving in the winter.
Icy Roads: A Personal Account

I had just gotten paid and was heading home to get out of the nasty weather.

There was some ice out, but at least later that day it wasn't as bad as before and I was getting a little overconfident.. never a good thing, let me tell you.

I was about 6 or 7 blocks from home when I lightly swerved to miss what looked like a patch of ice ahead of me.. though what I didn't know was that I was ON ice when I did that..

it had the nasty effect of sending my car sideways.

I remember sliding on the ice patch... seeing the pole in the distance.. realizing the inevitability of impact... slightly groaning, grabbing the wheel.. leaning back.... and BOOM!

I remember the first piece, it was like getting socked in the chest, or falling on your face, that slight "bounce back" feeling where your head or body feels like it just was dropped and bounced on a bungee cord...

Damascus' car at the point of impact. Had there been a passenger in the car, they would have died.

Then I came to (it seemed instantaneous.. but I'm really not sure.) and was in the right backseat, behind the really, really pushed in passenger side door.. my glasses were gone, I was wearing just one boot... and couldn't get a door open...

Luckily, I smacked into a cement post instead of a wooden one..... the kind that break and fall away after impact.. but still, it pushed the passenger side door RIGHT next to me, hell, it even was above my stick shift.

Really glad this wasn't when I had my neighbor in the car on the way to High School.. she would've been dead.

I looked out moments later and saw some lady with her mouth wide open.. eventually I was able to kick open the rear left door.. stumbled around in the ice and snow for a bit.. and basically was going crazy, realizing I had wrecked my first car after only having it for something around 8 months, thinking my parents would go ballistic and be so angry with me.. the fact that I was bleeding nastily from my right arm (didn't realize that) and shoeless didn't occur until later.

I found my glasses in the rear, my other boot next to the accelerator.... my paycheck sitting on the floor and some other items.. then my parents arrived and were in hysterics.

Eventually the cops and an ambulance arrived. Ironically, 2 of the 3 police cars slid on ice, as well as my parents and the ambulance. Apparently that section of road was terribly bad.

car interior
The interior of the car. Damascus was only inches away from being crushed by the passenger door.
I got away with scratches and bruises, and a slight laceration on my forehead and right forearm. I was out of the hospital that day.

I still think about the accident every now and then... when I remember it, I only remember the fear and then the accepting of inevitability and the binding force and immediate thoughts of just SURVIVING all coupled with a touch of calm right near or around the impact.. then the impact itself and the G forces felt.

Counting my blessings,

Drive Safe!
winter driving
Winter driving is dangerous. Drive with caution and use your common sense. If conditions are too severe, pull over!

If you must drive in the winter, follow these safe driving tips:

  • Clear snow and ice from all windows and lights – even the hood and roof – before driving.

  • Pay attention. Don’t try to out-drive the conditions. Remember the posted speed limits are for dry pavement.

  • Leave plenty of room for stopping. Maintain at least three times the normal following distance on snow or ice.

  • Leave room for maintenance vehicles and plows – stay back at least 200 feet (it’s the law!) and don’t pass on the right.

  • During inclement weather, don't forget to put your lights on. It makes it easier for other cars to see you.

  • Know the current road conditions.

  • The safest part of the road is the track of the vehicle ahead of you.

  • Use brakes carefully. Brake early. Brake correctly. It takes more time to stop in adverse conditions.

  • Watch for slippery bridge decks, even when the rest of the pavement is in good condition. Bridge decks will ice up sooner than the adjacent pavement.

  • Don't use your cruise control in wintry conditions. Even roads that appear clear can have sudden slippery spots and the short touch of your brakes to deactivate the cruise control feature can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

  • Don't get overconfident in your 4x4 vehicle. Remember that your four-wheel drive vehicle may help you get going quicker than other vehicles but it won’t help you stop any faster. Many 4x4 vehicles are heavier than passenger vehicles and actually may take longer to stop.  Don’t get overconfident in your 4x4 vehicle’s traction. Your 4x4 can lose traction as quickly as a two-wheel drive vehicle.

  • Do not pump anti-lock brakes. If your car is equipped with anti-lock brakes, do not pump brakes in attempting to stop. The right way is to “stomp and steer!”

  • Look farther ahead in traffic than you normally do. Actions by cars and trucks will alert you quicker to problems and give you a split-second extra time to react safely.

  • Remember that trucks are heavier than cars. Trucks take longer to safely respond and come to a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them.

  • Go slow!

  • Let someone know your travel routes and itinerary so that, if you don't arrive on time, officials will know where to search for you.

Stranded Couple Did Everything Right

Elizabeth and Robert Sulger set out on a wintry Monday to enjoy the day riding on country roads.

Gary Thompson of Downsville said that on the following Tuesday, he was grooming snowmobile trails on Bear Spring Mountain when he saw the car stuck in the snow and realized it was running.

The Sulgers were on Beers Brook Road, near Russ Gray Pond, on a section of the road that is not plowed in the winter, Thompson said.

The couple's daughter, Shirley Estus said her mother is a calm person.

"She said she didn't panic when she realized they were stranded," Estus said. "They knew they couldn't get out, so they just patiently waited."

Estus said her parents periodically turned the car off to conserve fuel and slept off and on through the night. Because the afternoon was warm and sunny, they didn't have coats with them, just heavy sweaters, she said.

Robert Sulger, 77, was a rural mail carrier and enjoys revisiting the spots on his old route, so he and his wife routinely go on long rides, Estus said.

Estus said her sister, Sharlene Murray of Walton, calls their parents every night. When they didn't answer the phone, Murray called a neighbor and asked them to check the house.

The police were notified that the Sulgers had not returned home and a missing-persons report was issued, said Walton police.

Elizabeth Sulger, 75, is an insulin-dependent diabetic, Estus said.

"She faithfully keeps packets of peanut butter crackers and diet soda in the car," Estus said. "That's what they snacked on."

Thompson said that morning was the first time that the members of the Delaware Valley Ridge Riders snowmobile club had groomed that section of the trail.

"When I saw them sitting in the car, I knocked on the window and started talking to them. They acted a little confused," Thompson said. "Then I called 911 with my cell phone."

Thompson said it appeared the Sulgers had been traveling on the plowed section of the road and then entered the seasonal section used as a snowmobile trail in the winter.

"I think he realized he had driven into the section where the road isn't plowed, and when he tried to turn around, he got stuck," Thompson said.

Though the Sulgers didn't have any serious medical problems from their ordeal, they were hospitalized for routine tests and observation, Estus said.

"Their body temperatures weren't really low, even though it had been so cold," she said. "But the hospital rest has been really good for them."

Hitting a Skid

Winter collisions can occur when your vehicle skids. Remember that not all vehicles respond in the same way to icy, slippery roads. You must know how to handle your vehicle and how it responds in various weather conditions.

winter storm
A car skids out on an icy road. Learn how to handle a skid in order to avoid a more serious accident.
Skids can best be avoided by driving for conditions, slowing down, allowing extra time to get to your destination and anticipating lane changes, turns and curves. Also recommended: slow down in advance, make smooth, precise movements of the steering wheel, be sensitive to how your vehicle is steering.

Even careful and experienced drivers experience skids. Don't panic! Learn to handle skids and remember that, sometimes, the vehicle will skid a second and even third time after the initial skid.

Rear-wheel skids
If the rear wheels lose traction, use these steps to regain control after a skid:

  1. Take your foot off the brake if the rear wheels skid due to hard or panic braking.

  2. Ease off the gas pedal if the rear wheels lose traction due to hard acceleration (rear-wheel drive).

  3. Shift to neutral.

  4. Look down the road in the direction you want the front of the car to go; be sensitive to the feel of the car and how it is responding to your steering.

  5. To regain control of the vehicle, steer gently in the direction of the skid of the rear of the vehicle. Just before the skid ends, bring the front wheels straight. Sometimes the vehicle will skid in the opposite direction, so you may have to repeat the movement until the vehicle stabilizes.

  6. Once the vehicle is straight, return to a driving gear and accelerate gently so that engine speed matches road speed.

Front-wheel skids
Front-wheel skids are caused by hard braking or acceleration and by entering a curve too fast. When the front wheels lose traction, you lose steering ability. The best way to regain control if the front wheels skid is:

  1. If the front wheels skid from hard braking, release the brake. If the wheels spin from loss of traction due to acceleration, ease off on the accelerator (front-wheel drive).

  2. Shift to neutral.

  3. If the front wheels have been turned prior to the loss of traction, don't move the steering wheel. Since the wheels are skidding sideways, a certain amount of braking force will be extended.

  4. Wait for the front wheels to grip the road again. When traction returns, you'll regain steering control.

  5. Return to a driving gear and gently steer in the direction you want to travel. Gently accelerate until engine speed matches road speed.

Four-wheel skids
Sometimes all four wheels lose traction -- generally at high speeds under adverse conditions. The most effective way to get your vehicle back under control when all four wheels skid is:

  1. Remove your foot from the brake or accelerator.

  2. Shift into neutral.

  3. Look and steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go.

  4. Wait for the wheels to grip the road again. As soon as the wheels regain traction, you will travel in the direction you want to go.

  5. Return to a driving gear and maintain a safe speed. NOTE: Avoid using overdrive on slippery surfaces.

Winter Tires: What You Need To Know

No matter how many safety features your vehicle has, it's the tires that enable you to handle it in the snow and ice.

Tires marked "M + S" ( "mud and snow" tires), also known as "all-season" tires, provide safe all-weather performance, but may not be suitable in heavy snow. Wide, high performance tires, other than those that are specifically designed as snow tires, are not suitable for snow-covered roads.

In regions with little snow and moderate winter temperatures, all-season tires may be suitable throughout the year. However, as the temperature drops below -10 C, the rubber compound in all-season tires may cause them to lose their grip as the tires harden in the cold.

Wherever cold or snowy winters are the rule, snow tires become a necessary safety precaution. In deep snow, winter treads improve traction by allowing the tire to rid itself of snow as it rolls, giving it a clear bite on the road.

Tires that meet Transport Canada's new "snow tire" designation will help you control your vehicle safely in snowy conditions.

Tires marked with the pictograph of a peaked mountain with a snowflake meet specific snow traction performance requirements and are designed for snow conditions.

Snow tires are a necessary safety precaution in areas that receive a lot of snow. They will provide greater traction on slippery surfaces than all-season, "mud and snowtires".


Drive safe, and enjoy the majesty of Canada's winter season!
Just be thankful you're not driving through Newfoundland in the winter. Unless you are driving through Newfoundland in the winter.