Whether you like it or not -- winter is coming, and new measures are being implemented to improve highway safety.

Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca joined OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt, among others, at a Toronto Canadian Tire on Thursday to announce the measures meant to help drivers “plan ahead.”.

“We know that we live in a winter climate, we know that we live in a northern jurisdiction, we also know that some parts of Ontario have already seen snow,” Del Duca said. “So whether we want to believe it or not whether we really are ready for it or not, we know that winter is coming. That’s why it’s so important that we get a head start on being prepared for winter and to being prepared for winter driving.”

In anticipation of the winter season, Del Duca said the province has expanded its Track My Plow program to cover all 20 of the province’s winter maintenance contract areas to “help drivers plan ahead for safe travel on highways.”

The program lets motorists keep tabs on current or recent locations of plows across provincial highways using a map. Users can also check on highway conditions through traffic camera streams and weather forecasts.

Ontario 511’s website also has a new similar feature, launched this year, which helps drivers look at driving conditions on an interactive map.

“This new feature will help drivers better plan the timing of their travels using three levels of driving conditions – good fair and poor,” Del Duca said. “The feature will give predicted driving conditions based on snow, rain, freezing rain and temperature because it’s so important for us to empower the travelling public and give them information so that people can make decisions according to their needs.”

Drivers can still take advantage of a car insurance discount by installing winter tires and a fleet of more than 1,100 snow plows and salt trucks are also “ready to fight the harsh winter storm,” he said.

“Remember, winter maintenance vehicles, our plows and our spreaders – they need plenty of room to do their job. Never pass a working snow plow,” Del Duca said. “I’ve heard Kerry said this many, many times. Let our plow operators do their job and do it safely.”

Schmidt echoed Del Duca’s warnings, adding that the winter season brings a “whole new set of challenges” both for motorists and officers responding to incidents.

This year alone, Schmidt said OPP have investigated approximately 55,000 collisions. Of those, 300 people have lost their lives.

“When we talk about driving, human nature seems to say a lot of things. We always want to be the first, we want to be the fastest, we want to be the best, we want to be the brightest. These area all great characteristics but sometimes those characteristics might get us into trouble while we driving on the highway,” Schmidt said.

“Sometimes our priorities should not be on being the first and fastest but rather being the best and brightest.”