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tips for safe winter driving in canada

Tips for Safe Winter Driving in Canada

tips for safe winter driving in canada

Tips for Safe Winter Driving in Canada

Clear Away Any Snow and/or Ice on Your Vehicle

If you’re planning to drive and there’s snow and/or ice on your vehicle, make sure you clear off all of it. When you leave it on your windshields, side mirrors, hood, headlights and taillights, the snow will reduce your visibility by blocking your view of the road. It will also fly off of your car and onto other vehicles, which can reduce other drivers’ visibility. 

In fact, failing to clear the roof of your vehicle may result in a fine in some provinces. And the fine is hefty! Under section 195 (1) (b) of the Motor Vehicle Act, driving with an obstructed view will result in a $109 ticket and three demerit or “penalty” points on your license. So make sure you have a wide and clear view from your seat to avoid causing injuries to other drivers, pedestrians, passengers and yourself.  

Get Winter/Snow Tires

Snow, and particularly, black ice, can make roads incredibly slippery and dangerous. And during the colder months, the braking distance of a winter/snow tire can be up to 25% shorter (or two vehicle lengths) compared to an all-season tire. So, having a good set of winter/snow tires will ensure that you’ll have enough traction when you’re driving on the road. 

Although they’re expensive, these tires are specifically designed to handle the challenges of driving in the most dangerous months of the year. The tread patterns and zig-zag grooves, all the way down to the chemical compounds in the tire, are done to provide better grip, evacuate snow, water and slush, and more control in slippery conditions. 

Each province has its own rules and regulations for these tires: some may require it, and some may not. For example, you can get a discount on your auto insurance in Ontario if you put winter tires on your car. Discounts may or may not be offered by your auto providers, however, so be sure to check with them. In British Columbia, most routes require winter tires, and are enforced by regulatory signs, the police and the provincial government. Regardless of the conditions, most agree that it’s good to have a set, since many motorists are not equipped with the skills or knowledge of driving in icy conditions. 

Drive Carefully

One of the best ways to avoid accidents in the snow is to drive carefully. Of course, we should all be driving carefully regardless of the weather conditions, but factors like fog, slush, snow and black ice can make roads particularly dangerous, so it’s best to be vigilant. Drive steadily and allow a constant speed to save fuel. 

One way to practice careful driving is by reducing your speed. You don’t have to drive extremely slow, but be sure to accelerate and decelerate slowly to avoid slipping tires. Another way is to look far ahead. Road conditions can change quickly, and black ice can have devastating consequences for you and your car if you aren’t paying attention. And most importantly, keep a safe distance from other cars. You would definitely not want to be sliding into other vehicles!

Keep a First Aid Kid in Your Vehicle

Even if you’re being careful, accidents can still happen. Be one step ahead in these kinds of situations by having an emergency first aid kit in your vehicle. And even if you’re not injured, you may be stuck in the snow or in a remote location, where help won’t arrive for a while. In such cases, it’s best to have The Canadian Red Cross recommends you have both an Emergency Car Kit and a Canadian Red Cross First Aid Kit. 

Emergency Car Kit 

  • A battery-powered radio and flashlight, with extra batteries
  • A blanket
  • Booster (jumper) cables
  • A fire extinguisher
  • A Canadian Red Cross first aid kit and manual
    • Emergency telephone numbers for EMS/9-1-1, your local poison control centre, and your personal doctors
    • Home and office phone numbers for family members, friends, or neighbours who can help
    • Sterile gauze pads (dressings) in small and large squares to place over wounds
    • Adhesive tape
    • Roller and triangular bandages to hold dressings in place or to make an arm sling
    • Adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
    • Scissors
    • Tweezers
    • Safety pins
    • Instant ice packs
    • Disposable non-latex gloves, such as surgical or examination gloves
    • Flashlight, with extra batteries in a separate bag
    • Antiseptic wipes or soap
    • Pencil and pad
    • Emergency blanket
    • Eye patches
    • Thermometer
    • Barrier devices, such as a pocket mask or face shield
    • Coins for pay phone
    • Canadian Red Cross first aid manual
  • Bottled water and high-energy foods that won’t go bad (replace the water every six months and the food once a year)
  • Maps of the area
  • A shovel
  • Flares
  • A tire repair kit and pump
  • Matches and a “survival” candle in a deep can that will burn for many hours

Sources: 6 Tips for Safe Winter Driving, Get Prepared, ICBC – Road Safety for Winter Driving, Canadian Red Cross: Kit Contents
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