From ice to snow, and blizzards, driving during the wintertime can be difficult and dangerous. If you’re a commuter or a frequent driver, then driving during the wintertime can be especially gruelling. Limited visibility and slippery roads can make it much more difficult to drive and can lead to an increased risk of accidents and injury. To protect yourself and your vehicle, here are some tips for you to prepare yourself to handle winter driving conditions!


Prepare Your Vehicle 

Before you even consider driving, particularly on snowy days, you must prepare your vehicle to withstand the severe weather conditions that winter brings. The harsh weather can take a toll on your vehicle. To ensure you are safe on the road, your car must be ready to handle the slippery roads and extreme cold. 


Winter Tires

Your tires provide the traction and control for your vehicle. The winter season comes with a variety of severe weather conditions. From ice to snowstorms, winter tires are designed to handle it all. In comparison to all-season tires, winter tires allow for a faster braking time on ice, more stability on snow and steady turns. Winter tires are manufactured to keep you safe and minimize the risk of skids and accidents. In fact, winter tires can decrease braking distances by 25%. Before you hit the road, make sure to book an appointment with your trusted mechanic for a tire swap.

To further ensure your vehicle is ready for winter, regularly inspect your tire pressure and inflate according to the pressure shown in your car’s manual. Tire pressure can decrease in the cold, so it is vital to stay on top of it.


Mechanical System

Winterizing your vehicle entails inspecting your brakes, cooling fluid, lights, and battery. Your battery must be fully charged, particularly in the colder weather. Furthermore, weak brakes can lead to slower response times and can lead to an accident. Make sure to inspect the condition of your brakes and look out for any grinding or squealing. If your brakes need to be replaced, book an appointment with your trusted mechanic. Your cooling fluid plays an essential role in maintaining the suitable temperature of your engine. Take some time to confirm that your coolant is sufficient and top it up if needed or consult your mechanic. Another important maintenance task is assessing the functionality of your lights. If you notice a broken or burnt bulb, replace it immediately.


Pack A Emergency Road Side Safety Kit

Before you hit the road, be sure to pack an emergency kit in your car. Be prepared in case you are stuck in your vehicle due to heavy snowfall, blizzards or an accident.

Here is a basic list of what you should pack:

  • Snowbrush and scraper
  • Small shovel
  • Road salt
  • Booster cables
  • Washer fluid
  • Flashlight
  • Non-perishable food and water
  • Extra clothing and boots
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First aid kit


Plan Before You Leave 

It’s always better to be prepared and be aware of the current weather before you begin driving. Take some time to get informed about the current weather and road conditions. Check your local weather stations or visit Ontario’s Traveller information Service website to make sure the weather is suitable for driving. It is highly recommended to avoid driving in severe snowstorms or weather conditions. Before you head out, clear off all snow or ice on your vehicle that may obstruct your vision on the road.


Winter Driving 


Avoid Skidding 

A skid can occur when your wheels lose the traction needed on a slippery road that is covered in ice or snow. The first step to minimizing the risk of skidding is to drive carefully and slowly. Avoid accelerating quickly and slow down when you brake, take turns or change lanes. However, even with careful driving, your vehicle can still skid if the weather conditions are severe. If you do encounter a skid, you may be tempted to brake suddenly and steer in the opposite direction of the skid. To properly handle a skid, always steer in the direction of the skid and do not brake suddenly. 


Keep A Distance

Slippery roads can lead to a slower braking time for your vehicle. It is essential to keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. If you are prone to tailgating, it is particularly important to avoid getting too close to vehicles during the wintertime.


Stay Alert 

With longer nights, strong winds and storms, visibility during the wintertime can be difficult. If you are planning on driving long distances, avoid any distractions that might hinder your driving.  Pay attention to the road and be aware of your surroundings. An accident can occur in a matter of seconds, so be sure to stay alert while driving. 


Be Mindful Of Black Ice

Black ice can be very dangerous to drive on. It is formed when the snow melts and then refreezes as clear ice. Clear ice can blend into the asphalt roads, and can be very difficult to spot. As a result, drivers are often unaware that they are driving on slippery ice. To distinguish whether there is black ice, be mindful of the area where it is most likely to form. Black ice can easily form on bridges and overpasses particularly since the surface temperature is often lower. For the most part, roads with lots of traffic are less likely to have black ice than rural roads. While you are driving, keep an eye out for patches that seem darker and are slightly glossy.

If you encounter black ice while driving and your car begins to skid, raise your foot off of the accelerator, do not brake and carefully steer your vehicle to gain control of the vehicle. Ultimately, to avoid any accidents while you are driving on black ice, be sure to drive very carefully and avoid using cruise control.


Be Safe On The Road 

It’s always better to be safe than sorry, particularly during the winter months. Be sure to prepare yourself and your vehicle for winter driving and use your discretion during storms and severe weather. Insurance is compulsory in Ontario, but collision is not. Contact our experienced insurance brokers to discuss whether this should be part of your insurance program. For insurance tips and news, visit our blog!