Winter Driving: Five Tips for Staying Safe on the Roads

When the temperature starts to drop it means another Canadian winter is right around the corner. You know how severe winters can be in the Great White North—especially if you’re out on the roads and highways. To help keep you and your family safe while in your vehicle this winter, we’ve put together our top five tips for driving in Canadian winter weather.

1. When in Doubt, Slow Down! 

Roads and highways are rarely completely cleared of snow and ice in the winter. These obstacles can add a degree of difficulty to winter driving, which is why we always recommend slowing down for increased control. Remember, the speed limit represents the maximum speed you are legally able to drive—it is not the mandatory speed you have drive, especially when faced with snow, slush, and ice. It’s worth noting that some highways also have posted minimum speeds, so you’ll want to be sure that you’re not endangering other drivers by driving too slowly, which nicely segues into our next tip…  

2. Stay Alert

You’re rarely the only person driving on a stretch of road at any given time, so it’s important that you remain aware of your surroundings. This means keeping an eye on signage for changes in speed limits, keeping your eyes on the road at all times, and adjusting your driving to give other drivers around you space to confidently navigate in winter conditions. Remember, being aware of your surroundings is crucial in the best of conditions, and it becomes even more important when snow starts to pile up.

3. Be Aware of Weather Conditions and Plan Ahead 

Sometimes, winter weather can simply be too severe to safely travel in. That’s why you need to take it upon yourself to check the weather forecast, especially if you’re planning on taking a longer drive. If the weather is expected to be bad, plan your departure and arrival time in order to avoid adverse weather, or reschedule your plans so vehicles, like plows, can safely clear the streets and get everyone to their destination safely. 

4. Keep Your Vehicle Clear of Snow and Ice

If you’re planning on driving after a snowfall, it’s important that you clean your vehicle off before you hit the road. This means using a snow brush to remove any built up snow from the body of your vehicle, as well as a scraper to clear your windows of any ice. Doing this will ensure you have the best vision possible while driving. It will also prevent other drivers on the road from being obstructed by additional blowing snow. Failure to keep your vehicle cleared of snow and ice can not only make for a difficult drive, it could also result in a fine, as Section 74 of the Highway Traffic Act states that “No person shall drive a motor vehicle upon a highway, (a) unless the windshield and windows either side of the compartment containing the steering wheel (all windows)… afford the driver a clear view to the front and side of the motor vehicle; and (b) unless the rear window is in such condition to afford the driver a clear view to the rear…”.

5. Purchase Winter Tires

If you’re driving in winter weather, you need winter tires. The simple fact is that all season tires are not designed to keep you safe and in control of your vehicle during the winter. The rubber compounds used in the construction of winter tires are designed to excel in icy, snowy conditions. They maintain their grip and maneuverability when the temperature drops, unlike all seasons which become less reliable in temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius. 

While winter tires are optional—although highly recommended—across much of the country, Quebec requires winter tires to be installed on all vehicles between December 15 and March 15. British Columbia also has laws that require winter tires in some regions between October 1 and March 15. For more information on purchasing winter tires, be sure to download our FREE Ultimate Guide to Winter Tires. 

With our Tips, You Will be Driving Confidently all Winter Long 

Winter driving doesn’t have to be a challenge. By preparing before the temperature drops with a set of winter tires, thinking ahead about the weather, and driving smart while you’re on the road, you’ll have no trouble reaching your destination during the winter season. For more information on winter driving or winter tires, be sure to contact the experts at your local Tirecraft today! 

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