Driving Safely This Winter

As almost all Atlantic Canadians know, winter driving presents a host of challenges. The low visibility combined with dangerous road conditions are a ‘perfect storm’ for automobile accidents. According to Jason Foroglou, an agency manager for Allstate “The majority of frequencies with {claims}, if you look at some of our data, is occurring in the winter months.”

When the roads get covered with ice and snow, it’s still our responsibility to drive in a safe manner. Doing so requires careful preparation before driving, and the implementation of precautionary driving tactics when interacting with other drivers. 

Consider these 3 tips to help you safely navigate winter driving this year. 

Winter driving

Prepare your vehicle for winter

In order to drive safely during winter conditions, your vehicle has to be in stellar condition. It’s recommended that you get your car inspected before winter arrives in force, giving you have enough time for any necessary repairs. Once your car has been technically assessed, installing proper tires is next.

For some regions that only receive light snow during winter, all-season tires are appropriate. In Atlantic Canada however, winter tires are necessary. They provide a level of traction that all-seasons can’t, and help to reduce vehicle sliding on turns and stops. To check if the tread on your winter tires is sufficient, Canadian Tire has an excellent online tutorial here

In the event of an accident or emergency during winter driving, it’s wise to have a well-stocked winter driving kit in your vehicle. Depending on the severity of the weather, you may be forced to stay in your car, and items like emergency food, blankets, and a first aid kit can make all the difference when waiting for help to arrive. A complete list of winter driving essentials is provided by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety here.

Give adequate space to cars around you

In winter conditions, vehicles are much more likely to slip and skid when braking. To compensate for this, you need to give more space to the car in front of you. Tailgating can be extremely dangerous in winter conditions because it limits the ability of the driver in front of you to make emergency maneuvers. 

One easy way to create a safe braking distance between you and the car in front of you is to give yourself a “three-second space” behind them. This can be done by first picking out a fixed object like a road sign or marker. When the vehicle ahead passes the marker, count how many seconds go by until you pass the same point. If it’s less than three seconds, increase your following distance accordingly. During inclement weather, a space of five seconds is recommended. 

Know when to stay off the road

In the event of a blizzard, or extremely icy road conditions, staying off the road can be the smartest option. To help with your decision on whether or not to drive, the weather network has public alerts that provide useful snowfall warnings and weather updates. You can check out their website here.

This winter, practice safe driving. For more information on winter driving safety, check out our resources below.

Resources: 

Canadian Centre of Occupational Health and Safety: Driving Tips - Winter

Canadian Safety Council: Winter Driving Tips