5 Tips for Safe Winter Driving


Winter driving in Canada can be difficult whether you’ve been driving for 25 years or just got your license a month ago. While conditions vary based on the province or city you live in, most of us will have to deal with slippery, icy roads regardless of where we live. The good news is that we’ve got some winter driving tips that can help everyone to ensure safe driving this coming winter!

Tips for Driving on Snowy & Icy Roads

While it’s best to avoid driving during a snowstorm or freezing rain, sometimes it’s unavoidable. These conditions can be very dangerous to drive in if you don’t have a good understanding of how to safely operate your vehicle according to the conditions. Here are 5 tips to help you navigate safely on icy and snowy roads this winter. 

1. Be Confident, Calm and Controlled

While this one may be easier to say than do, it’s critical that you do your best to be each of these three things. If you’re confident and calm when driving on the roads, you won’t be as jumpy or overreactive. Being reactive is great when you’re driving, but being overreactive can lead to accidents that never should have happened. 

It’s important that you never slam on your brakes on snowy or icy roads. If you are ever slipping out of control or need to stop as fast as possible, you need to pump your brakes. If you have a modern braking system in your car which most more recent cars do, the anti-lock braking system (ABS) will engage. It’s also just as important to never accelerate during a turn as this is an easy way to skid out of control. If you ever end up sliding out of control while making a turn, you should ease off the brakes and gas and turn your steering wheel in the direction you want to go.

man driving car on winter road

2. Clear the Ice and Snow Off Your Car

While this should be so obvious that it doesn’t need to be stated, based on how many Canadian’s don’t do this, we added it to our list. You need to clear off your car of snow and ice before hitting the road. This means brushing the snow off your roof, windshield, tail & headlights and side mirrors. If you leave snow on your roof you risk it falling to your windshield as you decelerate, compromising your ability to see straight ahead. If you fail to remove the snow from your roof you can receive a fine in some provinces. 

If you’re struggling to get the ice off of your car, de-icing spray is a great solution. It’s also a good habit to lift your wipers when you park outside to make sure your wipers don’t freeze to your windshield. 

3. Distance Yourself From Other Vehicles

One of the biggest hazards of driving in the winter is other vehicles. This is because not everyone will be as confident as you navigating in less than perfect driving conditions, causing them to make mistakes that leave you to make quick decisions. This is why it’s so critical that you constantly keep a safe distance from vehicles around you so you have enough time to react and brake before hitting them. 

4. Freezing Rain Requires ANOTHER Level of Caution

Many people underestimate how dangerous driving during freezing rain can be, as it does not take much to lose control of your vehicle. If you can avoid driving during freezing rain, you should, if you absolutely need to get somewhere during freezing rain, take these precautions:

  • Plan to give yourself extra time to commute so you can drive slowly and in control
  • Keep extra space from vehicles around you and be on the lookout for plows and salt trucks
  • If you see a plow or salt truck, drive behind them at a distance and never beside them
  • Go easy on your gas and your brakes
  • Do not engage in distracted driving during freezing rain, you need to be 100% attentive to the road

5. Plan Ahead of Driving

The last tip for driving in poor condition winter roads is to plan your drives accordingly. If you’re driving during an active snowstorm, you’re going to want to drive on as many main roads as possible. This is mainly because plows and salt trucks will hit the main roads first, leaving the smaller more obscure routes filled with snow and ice. So before you leave your house to make a trip, go over a route plan that will ensure you’re driving on main roads for as long as possible.

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