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The Ultimate Guide to Winter Driving

Tuesday, 13 December 2022

Winter driving can be a daunting task, especially if you're new to Canada. But don't worry, we're here to help! This guide will give you all the winter driving tips and tricks you need to know to stay safe on the roads. So strap in, and let's get started!

Tips to Follow Before You Hit The Road

Know Your Vehicle

The first step to winter driving is to make sure you know your vehicle inside and out. This means familiarizing yourself with things like your windshield wipers, your headlights, and your antifreeze levels. Taking the time to do a quick check of your vehicle before heading out on the roads will save you a lot of headache in the long run.

Be Prepared

Be prepared. No matter how prepared you are, there's always a chance that something could go wrong when you're out driving in the winter. That's why it's essential to have a well-stocked emergency kit in your car at all times.

  • A first-aid kit
  • Phone charger
  • A flashlight
  • Blankets
  • A shovel
  • Ice scrapers
  • Jumper cables
  • Road flares
  • Water and non-perishable snacks

Being prepared for winter driving also means being aware of the current weather conditions before you hit the road—that way, you can dress appropriately and plan your route accordingly. Winter driving can be treacherous. Before you hit the snowy road, have a route plan to avoid unplowed roads, and monitor weather conditions along the way. It's also important to clear your car of ice and snow, and have a phone charger on hand in case of trouble.

If you do find yourself in an emergency situation, staying calm is key. Remember to call 911 right away, and then follow their instructions until help arrives. By following these tips, you'll be well on your way to safe and successful winter driving!

The Importance of Winter Tires

One of the most important winter driving tips to prepare your car for winter driving is to ensure that your tires are in good condition. Winter tires are designed to provide better traction and handling in cold weather and on icy roads, so if you live in an area with severe winters, they're worth the investment. Even if you don't have winter tires, you can still ensure your regular tires are ready for the winter months by checking the tread depth and inflating them to the correct pressure.

Reasons to Make The Switch to Winter Tires

1. Improved safety. Winter tires are specifically designed to provide better traction and handling in snow and ice. This can help you avoid accidents and keep you safe on the road.

2. Lower insurance rates. Not only will winter tires help keep you safe on the road, but you may also be eligible for a discount on your car insurance. Check with your insurance provider to see if they offer a winter tire discount and what their requirements are. Usually, you'll need to have your winter tires installed by a certain date (usually late October to early November) to qualify. Don’t wait until the last minute–get your winter tires early and be prepared for whatever the season throws your way.

3. Better fuel economy. Winter tires can help improve your gas mileage because they have a lower rolling resistance than regular tires. This means you'll save money on gas while helping the environment.

4. Peace of mind. Winter weather can be unpredictable. Having winter tires can give you peace of mind knowing that you're prepared for whatever the season may bring. If you're looking for a safer, more economical, and more reliable way to drive in the winter, consider making the switch to winter tires. Your car will thank you for it!

*Pro tip - keep some sand or kitty litter in your trunk. If you get stuck in the snow, scattering some sand or kitty litter under your tires can help provide traction so you can get out of the ditch and back on the road.

Simple but Important Winter Driving Tips

Take It Slow

Another important tip for winter driving is to take it slow. This means leaving earlier for your destination so that you have plenty of time to get there safely. It also means being extra cautious when braking and turning, as icy roads can make these activities more difficult. And finally, it means obeying the posted speed limits—even if they seem low to you. Remember, it's better to arrive late than not at all!

Be Extra Cautious

Accelerate and decelerate slowly, and avoid sudden, jerky maneuvers. You'll also want to be extra cautious when interacting with other vehicles on the road. Turn your lights on, give extra space between you and the vehicle in front of you for braking, and keep a safe distance behind snow plows.

If you find yourself in a white-out, sleet, freezing rain, or hail storm, the best thing to do is pull over and wait it out. If you start to skid or slip on the road, don't panic. Steer into the skid, and gently pump your brakes until you regain control.

Do Not Panic

If you start skidding while driving, don't panic! The best thing to do is to stay calm and gently ease your foot off the gas pedal. If you have an anti-lock braking system (ABS), brake firmly and evenly. You should feel the brake pedal pulsing, which means that the system is working correctly. If you don't have ABS, pump the brakes gently.

If you start to slide on a slippery surface, turn your steering wheel in the direction you want the front of the car to go. For example, if the rear of your car starts to slide to the right, turn your steering wheel to the right.

Be Aware of Other Drivers

Driving safely means being aware of other drivers on the road. This means paying attention to their driving habits and being prepared to react accordingly. It also means following the rules of the road and driving defensively.

Remember to turn your lights on for visibility, give extra space between you and the vehicle in front of you to account for braking, and keep a safe distance behind snow plows. Follow the 7-Second rule When you see an accident on the road ahead, it will take you about 1.5 seconds to react. Then, a typical car requires 1.5 seconds to brake. That means you should keep at least 3 seconds of distance between you and any vehicle in front of you, driving safely. Depending on driving conditions, you may need even more space. By leaving extra room, you can give yourself time to react in case something happens. Follow these simple tips, we can all help make the roads a little safer for everyone.

Quick Winter Driving Tips to Share With Your Loved Ones

  • Check your tires: winter tires are a must in winter weather conditions! All-season tires are not made for snow and ice.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly: give yourself plenty of time to brake by accelerating and decelerating slowly.
  • Increase following distance: it takes longer to stop on slippery roads, so make sure to leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you.
  • Know your brakes: if you have an antilock braking system (ABS), learn how it works before you need to use it. Pumping the brakes gently is the best way to stop.
  • Don't use cruise control: on icy or slippery roads, it's best to avoid using cruise control so you can have more control over your speed.
  • Beware of black ice: this is a thin layer of ice that can be hard to see, especially at night. Use extra caution when driving in areas where black ice is known to form.
  • Come to a complete stop: before you start driving again after spinning out or getting stuck, come to a complete stop. This will help you get a feel for the traction on the road and make sure your tires are pointed in the right direction.
  • Don't power up hills: trying to speed up when going uphill can cause your wheels to spin. Instead, maintain a steady speed and don't try to power up the hill.
  • Don't stop if you can keep going: if you can safely make it to the side of the road or a parking lot, do so. But if not, it's better to keep moving until you can find a safe place to stop.

The winter can be a tough time to get around, especially if you're not used to driving in snow and ice. But don't worry, with a little practice, you'll be confident behind the wheel in no time

Start by taking short drives in winter conditions. This will help you get a feel for how your car behaves on snow and ice, and give you the chance to practice winter driving techniques. As you become more confident, you can start taking longer drives.

Winter driving doesn't have to be daunting. With a little practice, you'll be confident on the roads in no time. And remember, if you find yourself in an accident or stranded on the side of the road this winter, always call for help right away. Safety is paramount when it comes to winter driving. Stay safe out there!

Looking for car insurance this winter? We’ve got you covered. Big Insurance is one of the leading providers of car insurance across Canada. We offer a wide range of coverages and discounts to help you save on your premium.

Get a free quote today and see how much you could save.

By: Elizabeth Stephenson