12 Tips for Safe Winter Driving in CanadaNovember 1, 2023
Winter is soon approaching, and it's a tough time for driving. In Canada, you're likely to drive on snowy, slippery, and icy roads during winter. Some places receive a lot of snow, while others have to deal with changing weather, like rain turning into sleet and snow. To stay safe, drivers should prepare their cars for winter and go slower in these conditions.
But many drivers don't know how to handle their cars in such slippery conditions. In this blog, we will share some easy but important tips for winter driving.
Winter driving tips to keep you safe:
1. Check weather conditions
Before you start your journey in winter, make sure to check the road conditions. Give yourself some extra time for your commute, as rushing can lead to mistakes when driving on slippery roads and increase the chances of an accident. Keep an eye on the weather forecast to be well-prepared, and consider waiting for better conditions or allowing more time for your trip if needed.
2. Do not drive in bad weather
Don't drive in bad weather if you can avoid it. If you have to, make sure your car has enough gas and prepare in advance. Fill up your windshield washer fluid, check that your wipers work well, and clear the snow off your car, including the roof and lights.
Winter driving in Canada means your windshield gets dirty quickly, so you'll use your wipers a lot. If you run out of washer fluid, it can be hard to see, which is dangerous for you and others on the road.
3. Get winter tires
Winter tires offer improved grip, control, and braking performance. Remember that all-season tires are not a substitute for winter tires; they lose their effectiveness when the temperature falls below 7 degrees Celsius.
4. Keep a safe distance while driving
Maintaining a safe distance between vehicles is crucial during winter, as you'll need adequate space and time to brake safely. If you brake suddenly, you risk losing traction, so it's wise to keep your speed down. If other drivers choose to tailgate or go faster, it's best to allow them to pass you.
Especially when driving behind a snow plow, ensure you maintain a safe following distance. Snow plow operators may not always have the best visibility, and the clouds of snow they kick up can reduce your own visibility.
5. Remove snow and ice from your vehicle thoroughly
Be sure to clear the snow and ice from the windows, headlights, rear-view mirrors, and the car's roof. Allow any foggy windows to clear up before driving to ensure good visibility.
6. Maintain a full gas tank in your vehicle
Having a full gas tank not only helps minimize moisture in the fuel system but also adds some extra weight to your car, which can assist in slowing it down. Having a full tank ensures that if you ever find yourself in an emergency situation on the road, you'll be able to run your car for short periods to stay warm.
7. Avoid cruise control
Steer clear of using cruise control, especially in a blizzard. In such conditions, the roads are typically wet, snowy, or icy, and using cruise control can be risky. In case your vehicle skids, having cruise control engaged may lead to unintentional acceleration, reducing your ability to react quickly and maintain control.
8. Stay cautious of black ice
At times, the road might seem dry, but it could be coated with a smooth and nearly invisible layer of ice. Black ice tends to form on bridges, shaded spots, and overpasses, especially following cold temperatures and recent rainfall. Although this isn't a constant occurrence, driving as if the road is icy will encourage safe driving practices.
9. Avoid abrupt braking
In the event you need to stop quickly, it's better to pump the brakes gently instead of slamming them on. When approaching a curve, reduce your speed beforehand rather than braking while in the middle of the turn, as this can lead to a loss of control. If your vehicle starts to skid, it's important to keep the brake pedal pressed and focus on steering.
10. Do not panic if the vehicle skids
If your vehicle begins to skid, remove your foot from the accelerator to regain control and reduce your speed. Focus on the direction you intend to go and turn the steering wheel accordingly.
Skidding can be the result of sudden and frantic braking when attempting to evade an obstacle on the road. To prevent this, maintain a lower speed, and exercise caution when applying the brakes, making turns, and navigating curves.
11. Keep your phone fully charged
Ensure your phone is fully charged before your journey. A mobile phone will help you keep your family or friends informed about your whereabouts and seek assistance if needed. Remember not to use your phone while driving, as this is not only against the law but can also distract your attention from the road. It’s also advisable to keep emergency numbers handy.
12. If you’re stuck, remain inside your vehicle
Use your hazard lights to draw attention to your situation. Keep the engine running only when necessary to avoid exhaust fumes, and consider cracking a window to let in fresh air.