Winter can be one of the most difficult and unpredictable driving seasons, but if you stay alert, slow down, and stay in control, you'll be sure to get where you need to go, safely.
Before hitting the road
- Make sure your vehicle is ready. Take it in for a tune-up before the snow is here to stay.
- Install four winter tires; do not mix-and-match with your summer or all-seasons. A good rule of thumb is to put your snow tires on when the temperature is consistently 7° Celsius or colder.
Did you know that some insurance companies offer a discount if you install four winter tires each winter? If yours doesn't, compare quotes at Kanetix to see if you could be paying less for your car insurance.
- Be prepared for an emergency. See the Kanetix checklist for your car kit to make sure you have everything you need in case your car is stuck in the snow or you're stranded at the side of the road.
- Wear clothing, or have clothing in the car available, that is appropriate for the weather outside the car not inside the car (including footwear.) While driving, your clothing should not hinder your movement and should be comfortable.
- Plan your route. Be familiar with the maps/directions to avoid confusion and check the weather reports before you leave. Let others know your travelling plans including when you're leaving and when you'll arrive.
- Always clear the ice and snow from your vehicle; pay special attention to your windows, lights, mirrors, hood and the roof.
- Be sure you have plenty of windshield washer fluid. It's also a good idea to keep some extra fluid in the car in case you run out.
On the road
- Buckle up.
- Check the weather and travel conditions before heading out, and drive according to those conditions. In the winter, allow yourself extra time for travel so you get to where you want to be in time.
- Bring your cell phone with you as it can be very useful in case of an emergency, but remember to pull over to the side of the road first before using it. Winter driving demands your full attention.
- Fill 'er up! Keep the gas tank at least half full. Keeping the gas tank full will prevent your gas line freezing, not to mention making sure you've got the juice to get where you need to go.
- Be sure other drivers can see you coming. Use your lights when visibility is reduced.
- Reduce your speed and do everything gently, especially when turning, accelerating or stopping.
- Keep a safe distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you because it takes longer to stop in the winter. What makes a safe distance? Under normal driving conditions, safe spacing can be determined with the two-second rule. In winter, and especially in bad weather, double the two-second rule. This means, a 4-second interval from the time the car in front of you passes a fixed object until you reach the same object.
- When conditions are wintery, don't use cruise control. Winter conditions require you to be in full control of the vehicle at all times.
- Shaded areas, like bridges and overpasses, have a tendency to freeze sooner and stay frozen longer. Keep this in mind when approaching. Also, watch out for black ice as it can cause your vehicle to suddenly lose traction.
- Losing traction can result in skidding off the road. To avoid losing traction, do everything slowly. Always try to gently turn, gently accelerate and gently brake.
- If you start to skid, look where you want the vehicle to go and steer in that direction but be careful not to oversteer.
Looking for more winter driving tips?
Check out the following Kanetix articles:
- Read: Winter driving misconceptions
- Read: Winter car tune-up checklist
- Read: Car safety kit checklist