How to survive winter driving

How to survive winter driving
December 21, 2021

With winter upon us, it is time to start preparing yourself and your vehicle for the bad weather ahead. Driving through the snow takes more than a good set of snow tires. It takes preparation, knowledge, and smart driving. With today's technology and easy access to everything we often forget how fragile we are when we aren't connected. It is essential to prepare for those worst-case scenario situations. Often, we think it will be someone else who gets their vehicle stuck in the snow or breaks down, but it could easily happen to you! Below are our top tips for safe driving this season, no matter how snowy it gets.

Be Prepared

In general, you never want to rush when you are driving. Always give yourself extra travel time, especially in bad weather with snow- and ice-covered roads. Check the weather and road conditions before you drive. By checking your weather apps, the news, or calling 511, you can get information about local weather conditions. It is important to never drive when you are tired and not fully alert. Finally, if you are not one of the 33% of Canadians who have an emergency kit in their car, maybe it is time to add one.

 A winter car emergency kit will help you accomplish two things.

  1. It will help you get unstuck if your vehicle slides off the road.
  2. It will help you survive if you cannot get your vehicle unstuck and must wait for help.

A basic winter emergency kit can include:

  • Granola/energy bars
  • Water (bottles half full so they do not leak when they freeze)
  • Blanket/extra clothing
  • First Aid kit
  • Snowbrush
  • Wind-up flashlight/candle and matches (lighter)
  • Map
  • Whistle
  • Sand/salt/cat litter
  • Jumper cables
  • Antifreeze/windshield washer fluid

Drive Smart

“1 in 4 Canadians feel anxious, scared, or panicked about winter driving” - 2011 TD Insurance survey.

Winter conditions demand a lot from drivers. From clearing off snow and ice so you can see, and other drivers can see you, to warming up a cold car (drive it, do not idle), winter has its challenges. Drivers should review winter driving best practices for steering and handling a skid, and how to recognize black ice (black and shiny when roads are grey-white). As well as driving slowly and cautiously, drivers should always leave extra space between vehicles and never pass a snowplough.

Get a Grip

Compared to all-season tires, winter tires can help reduce braking distance by up to 25%. In addition, installing winter tires on all four tire wells will maintain and provide optimal stability when braking on snowy roads.

Tip: Don’t forget to contact your car insurance company and see if you are eligible for a discount for the months in which snow tires are required.

Don't be left out in the cold this winter.

Follow these crucial tips for general maintenance and inspections of your car before you drive:

  • Test your battery
  • Service your brakes
  • Check tire pressure
  • Inspect belts and hoses
  • Check all your lights (brake/headlights)
  • Replace worn windshield wipers
  • Refill windshield washer fluid
  • Keep your gas tank filled up
  • Pack an emergency kit
  • Install four matching winter tires

Ensure you and your vehicle are prepared and equipped to drive this winter in any conditions. By being prepared for what lies ahead, you can do your part to keep the roads a safe place and get to your destination safe and sound.

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