10 Tips for Safe Winter Driving

Even for experienced drivers, the Canadian winter road conditions can be daunting. Those relatively new to Canada have probably experienced driving on slippery roads and dealt with the challenges presented by sustained low temperatures of between -1 ° C and -2 ° C. A nighttime drive on a deserted roadway at -25 degrees Celsius with no access to emergency services is very different from this.

The consequences of a single incorrect move can be catastrophic. When driving in the winter, it is always preferable to err on caution rather than regret. If you want to travel during the winter without worrying about your safety, consider the following ten tips.

1. Make Your Car Snow Free

Keeping your car clean before driving in wind, snow, and subzero temperatures will help you see well behind the wheel. Clean the windshield, the car’s bonnet, and the back and front lights.

In NL and NS, driving is illegal without clearing the snow on top of your car, which can fall over onto the windshield when you brake, increasing the risk of accidents.

Your car may get covered with ice if you drive in subfreezing temperatures. When scraping ice from windows proves too much of a hassle, a short spritz of de-icing spray can quicken the process. Keep your wipers from freezing on the windshield by raising them above the car whenever you stop.

2. Change to Winter Tires

To safely navigate in icy and snowy weather, you need winter tires. Winter tires have a different rubber formula than regular tires, allowing them to grip the road better and penetrate the ice and snow better. The tires can adjust to the slicker icy winter roads thanks to the improved traction. They come in handy when switching lanes during winter, as the winter tires not only increase stability but also assist you in maintaining control of your vehicle.

From October 15th to May 31st, drivers in Nova Scotia should make use of studded tires. Studs cannot be larger than 127 mm in width or project further than 3 mm beyond the tire’s tread or gripping surface. Over 3 millimeters of tread depth is required.

On the other hand, from November 1st to May 31st, it is strongly recommended that you use studded winter tires while in Newfoundland and Labrador. The tread depth must be at least 1.5 mm.

Did you know, not only is switching your tires over for the winter months vital in reducing the risk of a vehicle accident, but it can also save you money on your auto insurance?!

3. Maintain Your Distance

Other motorists who are unaccustomed to driving in snow or who have yet to take the time to ensure their vehicles are equipped to handle the conditions pose a significant threat during a snowfall.

In a snowfall, providing enough distance between cars is crucial so that everyone has enough time to properly use their brakes in an emergency. Avoid slamming on the brakes, which might cause you to start sliding, so drive slowly and allow quicker or tailgating vehicles to pass you.

4. Pack What You Need

Don’t depend on the car’s warming system to keep you delightfully warm on your trip. Prepare for the cold weather by dressing appropriately and bringing some hot beverages and snacks. It will come in handy during a breakdown or in the event of getting stuck in traffic. In case of mechanical failure, having a charged cell phone is also helpful.

The following items are recommended to be kept in your vehicle all winter long:

      • Ice scraper
      • Flashlight
      • Shovel
      • a cozy blanket
      • Snow boots
      • Safety Triangle and Warning Flag


5. Don’t Skid!

The way your car handles skidding relies on whether you have a four-wheel drive, front wheel, or a rear wheel. The greatest strategy to avoid skidding and losing track is to reduce your speed significantly before approaching a curve rather than trying to do so once you’ve already entered it. If you’re traveling too slowly, you can still pick up the pace in the curve.

6. Make Yourself Visible

Turn on the vehicle’s headlights if visibility is poor during the day. In a heavy snowstorm, using high beams could reduce visibility; instead, switch to low beams and turn on any fog lighting system you may have.

7. Proper Ventilation

Because of the increased warmth and relative humidity gradient between the interior and exterior of the automobile, condensation forms more frequently under cold temperatures. Accumulating this on the road might be hazardous because it reduces visibility. The demand for ventilation grows when using a heater at its maximum setting, which might cause sleepiness.

When it’s cold outside, you shouldn’t use your car’s air recirculation options because that blocks the vents which let fresh air in. A better equilibrium can also be achieved by slightly opening the windows.

8. Master Emergency Braking Skills

Use the ABS on your car to prevent your wheels from locking up. If your car has ABS, you may still control the vehicle’s direction of travel while exerting full brake pressure. If you don’t have anti-lock brakes (ABS), pumping them is better than allowing the vehicle to skid since it offers you more control over the steering.

Having vehicle stability control (VSC), traction control (TC), and anti-lock brakes (ABS) in your vehicle, among other modern features, significantly improve winter driving safety.

9. Reduce Speed

Although it may seem intuitive, motorists need to reduce their speed sufficiently when driving during snow, fog, or slick weather. Refrain from giving in to the pressure that would have you travel faster than you feel is safe.

Maintain the proper lane position and allow faster vehicles to pass. To avoid the temptation to speed, allow additional time for your journey. Also, maintain a full gas tank. Your car will be heavier when it has a full tank of gas, which may cause it to go more slowly.

10. Dress Warmly But Not Heavily

On extended car rides, wearing a heavy jacket or coat might get toasty and uncomfortable. Please remember that it is still mandatory to wear a seat belt every time, regardless of whether or not you are wearing a jacket.

In accordance with statutory requirements, it’s not recommended that your child wear heavy and bulky clothes while in their car seats. Instead, dress your kid in lightweight layers that can still be securely fastened into a car seat belt, and pack a shawl in case it gets chilly.


It’s risky to get behind the wheel during a blizzard or other severe weather event. If it is a must you venture out, do so only after turning on your headlights, widening the gap between your vehicle and the one ahead of you, slowing down to a safe speed, and keeping a close eye on the road. Use caution, restraint, and deliberation before applying the brakes or accelerating. The journey will take time though you will arrive without incident.

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