The chilly season just wouldn’t be the same without it, and although it looks pretty falling onto our trees and rooftops, when it covers our roadways it can create many driving hazards for new and experience motorists alike.
This winter, keep yourself and your loved ones safe when you’re behind the wheel as the snowflakes are falling – here are our top winter driving safety tips to keep in mind:
1. Get winter tires
The first, and one of the most important tips for safe driving during the snowy season is to replace your summer or all-season tires with a quality set of winter tires.
You might think your all-season tires have got you covered all year long, but the truth is that all Canadian drivers simply need snow tires in the winter. That’s because they’re specifically designed for harsh Canadian winter driving conditions, including having extra traction than summer or all-season tires.
2. Slow down
One of the simplest things you can do to help stay safe when driving in snow is to simply slow down! On icy or snowy roads, all road maneuvers – including stopping, accelerating, and turning – take longer than they do on dry ones. Slow down so you can safely maneuver the road and have enough time to react to what’s in front of you.
3. Keep a safe distance
Along with slowing down, during the snowy season it’s vital that you also keep a greater distance between your car and the one in front of you – as much as triple or quadruple your usual distance. This means that if you’re usual distance is two to three seconds, you should keep a minimum of six seconds of distance between your car and the one in front of you.
4. Create an emergency kit
If you haven’t got an emergency kit for your car yet, now is the perfect time to put one together. Follow our detailed guide to gather all the items you need in your emergency kit, including water bottles, warm clothing, food and a first aid kit.
5. Check road conditions
During the wintertime, it’s even more important to check road conditions before getting behind the wheel. Check the weather so you can plan and dress accordingly. If there’s a blizzard on the way, reassess whether your trip is absolutely necessary – you’ll be much safer off in the comfort of your own home.
6. Know how to recover from a skid
In the winter, the risks of skidding on the road are significantly higher. Snow, sleet, and black ice can make for a slippery drive. Learn how to recover from a skid before it happens to you, so you can stay safe if you do get caught in one – our step-by-step guide will show you how.
7. Be attentive
Since you need more reaction time to stop, accelerate, or change directions, it’s extra important to be attentive when driving in the wintertime – and that means absolutely no distracted driving. Pay attention to your surroundings and try to anticipate your next move, so you can give yourself more time for stopping and turning.
8. Avoid cruise control
Cruise control can be a useful function in summertime, when the roads are dry and the skies are sunny. But when winter rolls around, and there’s snow, sleet and slush on the roads, cruise control can make for a dangerous driving situation.
Avoid using cruise control in the winter if roads are icy, wet or snowy – if you end up hydroplaning, your cruise control might make your car accelerate, which may lead to you losing control of your vehicle.
9. Break before you make a turn
During snowy weather, you can’t make a turn in the same way that you would in the summertime, when the roads are clean and dry. When driving through snow, you’ll want to brake well before you take the corner so you can have as much grip as possible to make that turn.
10. Check your exhaust pipe
Your vehicle’s exhaust pipe is probably not something that you think about very often, if at all. But during the winter, that can be a dangerous mistake, as snow, ice and other road debris can clog your exhaust pipe. If the pipe is clogged when the engine is running, you run the risk of filling the passenger compartment of your vehicle with dangerous carbon monoxide – a potentially deadly substance. That’s why it’s important to always check and clear the exhaust pipe in winter, especially after a large snowfall.
Driving in the snow can be tricky, but with some patience, practice, and by following these important safety tips, you can help keep yourself and your passengers safe this winter.
These tips are provided for information and prevention purposes only. They are general in nature, and Desjardins Insurance cannot be held liable for them. We recommend using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, tailored advice.
In Quebec, Desjardins Insurance refers to Desjardins General Insurance Inc. In Ontario and Alberta, Desjardins Insurance refers to Certas Direct Insurance Company, underwriter of automobile and property insurance.