Tips for safe winter driving

Driving in winter conditions can be intimidating for many drivers, especially when you’re caught on icy roads or driving on streets that aren’t fully ploughed. If you see that road conditions are dangerous and you’re not able to make alternative travel plans or postpone your trip, here are some tips on how to drive safely this winter.

  • Prepare your vehicle for winter driving. Always be ready in the event of an emergency or unexpected winter conditions. Install winter tires on your vehicle to gain better traction on snow and ice. Keep items such as a lightweight shovel, jumper cables, a snowbrush with a scraper and a flashlight in your trunk so you’re always prepared. Before driving away, ensure that your mirrors, windows and the top of your vehicle are clear of snow.
  • Drive cautiously in winter weather. Don’t be in a rush to get anywhere. When it comes to winter driving, always drive slower than you normally would, whether you’re in a residential neighbourhood or on a highway. Be careful not to make any abrupt turns and slow down well ahead of time before you reach a stop sign. Driving fast is one of the main causes of winter collisions so the slower and more carefully you drive on snow- and ice-covered roads, the more protected you will be against being involved in an accident.
  • Be kind to other vehicles on the road. Start braking and use your signal light before you enter a turn to let drivers around you know what you’re doing. Ensure your lights are on to maximize visibility for you and other motorists. Do not tailgate in the winter, even on dry pavement. If you don’t leave enough room between you and the vehicles around you, a collision is more likely to occur if someone has to stop abruptly or if a vehicle loses traction on the road.
  • Control your vehicle when you skid. When you’re skidding on the road, it may seem natural to hit the brakes. However, this does not actually prevent your vehicle from sliding. If you instead accelerate into the skid, your vehicle’s weight transfers from the front to the rear which can help it regain some control in a skid.
  • Do not use cruise control. Cruise control is a great tool to use in the summer months; however, when it comes to winter driving, you don’t want to use it. Cruise control maintains vehicle speed regardless of the road conditions. Should your vehicle begin to hydroplane or come across a dangerous situation, cruise control will not respond, taking precious seconds away from your own response time.

When it comes to winter driving, be sure to use every resource you have to drive safely and signal to other vehicles your intention. Pay attention to the road and give yourself lots of room. Using these tips, you will not only maximize your own safety on the road this winter but for other drivers around you as well.