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Winter Driving Tips

Winter Driving Tips to Keep You Safe on the Road this Season

November 20, 2020.

As temperatures begin to drop, it is time to start thinking about winter driving conditions. While snow and icy road conditions pose threats to drivers, decreased visibility and winter road conditions make driving through Canadian winters a challenge. Whether you are a seasoned commuter or driving in winter conditions for the first time, it is always a good idea to familiarize yourself with winter driving safety guidelines. To help you safely navigate winter road conditions, we have compiled safe driving tips.  

Slow Down

Snow, ice, and other road conditions can impact a driver’s ability to react appropriately to the elements. In dangerous weather conditions, it is imperative to slow down and drive accordingly. It is also important to note that drivers should always allow themselves additional time to commute as driving conditions can change rapidly. In addition to slowing down, drivers should be mindful of how much distance is between their vehicle and the one in front. 

Leave Additional Space 

Winter conditions can change drastically. While seasoned drivers can anticipate changes, inexperienced drivers on snowy roads or those not equipped with winter or all-season tires may pose a threat to others on the road. Drive slowly and leave ample distance between vehicles so you may brake safely. If fellow drivers are not maintaining adequate space between vehicles, allow them to pass you. Keep in mind that drivers can lose traction when applying heavy pressure on the brakes, so be sure to brake according to your braking system. 

Know-How to Brake and Remain Calm

If your vehicle has an automatic transmission, you are likely using an anti-lock braking system (ABS). If you need to stop quickly, pump the brakes instead of slamming on the brakes. Pumping the brakes will help you come to a stop without losing traction or sliding. 

If your vehicle has a standard transmission, you will need to rely on downshifting gears to come to a stop. Instead of using the brakes, shift down a gear to stop. Keep in mind that you do not want to feather the clutch as you release it. Feathering can cause your vehicle to slide. For more information on how to appropriately stop your vehicle, see here.

Furthermore, drivers who will brave the winter conditions should consider installing winter tires on their vehicles.

Get Winter Tires

Winter tires are an ideal way to ensure safety when driving in winter conditions. Not only do they allow for better traction and handling in wintry conditions, but they can also help you stop up to 25 per-cent earlier. Always ensure you have inflated your tires. A lack of air pressure can also negatively affect traction. Eligible drivers in Ontario may receive a 2-5% discount on their auto insurance for installing winter tires on their vehicles. If you’re wondering if you’re eligible, submit an inquiry here.

Top Up Windshield Fluid

With increased snow, slush, and debris, be sure to monitor your windshield fluid levels. As drivers use wiper fluid more during the winter months, it is a good habit to always have extra windshield fluid on hand to top up when necessary. Consider storing an additional bottle in your emergency kit. In addition to windshield fluid, it is crucial to monitor your fuel levels.

Keep Gas Tank Full

While keeping your gas tank full may seem like a no-brainer, it’s essential to maintain adequate fuel levels in winter weather. Doing so can reduce the amount of moisture in the fuel system. Keeping a full tank also adds more weight to a vehicle, which in turn helps slow it down.

Clear Your Vehicle Before You Hit The Road

Be sure to clear your vehicle of snow and ice before driving. This includes mirrors, lights, windows, doors, and roof. Failure to do so can result in limited visibility and can cause damage to other vehicles on the road.

Be Mindful of Weather Conditions

Winter weather conditions can change quickly. Before hitting the road, be sure to monitor weather patterns and road conditions. Plan and check the forecast to stay up-to-date.

Emergency Kit

Be prepared for the unexpected. Creating an emergency kit can help you adapt and remain calm in times of emergency. The Government of Canada (GOC) recommends the following items to include in an emergency kit

  • Non-perishable food, such as energy bars
  • Water in plastic bottles
  • Blanket
  • Extra pair of clothes, socks, and shoes
  • First aid kit with seatbelt cutter
  • Small shovel, scraper, and snow brush
  • Wind-up flashlight
  • Candle and matches
  • Whistle
  • Roadmaps
  • Phone charger for vehicle use
  • Copy of your emergency plan

GOC also recommends the following items to keep in the trunk:

  • Sand or salt for added weight
  • Antifreeze and windshield washer fluid
  • Tow rope
  • Jumper cables
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Warning light or road flares

Check out our website for more information, and get yourself a no-obligation quote today.

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