Winter Driving Tips
It’s that time of year again where everyone seems to forget how to drive. It’s winter! What would you do without winter driving tips from your favourite dealership?
The start of winter has been a bit warmer than usual, so we’re going to remind you of a few helpful facts to navigate through warm and cold conditions. We’re talking slush, snow, freezing rain and more!
The first step and the most obvious step is to ensure your vehicle is equipped with winter tires. There are serious safety benefits to having winter tires and they have been proven by experts. Don’t be that person on the road causing accidents and taking the risk. Yes, tires can be expensive, but isn’t it worth the investment? Ultimately, we’ll leave that decision up to you.
Next, we’re going to remind you about the ever-popular safety kit. How many news channels, car/insurance companies, newspapers (and more) have advised you to get safety kit as soon as the first snowflake falls? Well, there’s a reason. It’s beneficial for you, and anyone you cart around in your vehicle, to have a winter safety kit on hand.
Your kit should include (but not limited to):
- Food that won’t spoil (granola bars, etc)
- Water (plastic bottles that won’t freeze)
- Extra clothing (including shoes/boots)
- First aid kit with seatbelt cutter
- Small shovel, snow brush with scraper
- Candle in a deep can and matches
- Wind‑up flashlight
- Whistle (in case you need to attract attention)
These emergency winter safety kits can easily be made by yourself from collecting each item, OR, you can often find them at stores like Canadian Tire for around $50.
Tackling the Elements
Like we mentioned earlier, we’ve been having a bit of a weird winter in Regina, Sask. You may encounter a snowstorm one day, fog the next, or maybe some freezing rain.
If it’s blizzarding, don’t go out driving if you don’t have to. With a combination of falling snow, the “white stuff” can be drifting and blowing all over the road, reducing your visibility. Check a local weather website for visibility stats. If the wind is around 40-50K (which isn’t hard to reach in Saskatchewan) and visibility reports are less than 1 kilometre, avoid driving.
As always, be sure to use caution and drive extremely slow if you MUST travel in a blizzard.
Sometimes you may be driving and big chunks of snow begin falling. Not to panic. Unless it’s over 10cm of snow and the graders haven’t been out to clear the roads, you should be able to navigate your vehicle skillfully. Make use of vehicle features like four-wheel-drive, anti-lock brakes, and traction control if that’s an option for you and is necessary to get out of snowy situations.
We hope you don’t get caught driving in freezing rain or have to go out after a fresh downpour. If you can, try to avoid driving in these conditions. It will create some really slippery driving conditions and make your knuckles turn white from gripping your steering wheel tightly.
In these conditions, we recommend using traction control which is a button that usually looks like this:
Traction control is a handy feature that uses the anti-lock brake sensors at the wheels to determine if a wheel is slipping. If it detects that one wheel is going faster than the others, it applies the brakes to that wheel until it regains traction. It helps keep your car from slipping around in wet conditions.
If you live in Saskatchewan, you know the winds can gust at some record-breaking speeds. Be mindful of strong winds on open roads (try to take inner city routes if possible) and use your best judgement to keep your vehicle steady in your lane. Also, keep in mind that strong winds can make icy roads even icier and can turn a snowfall into a full-blown blizzard. We recommend checking the weather before driving if you’re concerned about high winds during your commute.
This is one of the trickier conditions to drive through. Black ice is a thin layer of ice on a road that can be difficult to see and can make the road look (more) black and shiny. The road freezes more quickly in shaded areas (under bridges and on overpasses) when it’s cold. The worst part? These areas remain frozen long after the sun has risen.
If you run into black ice, stay calm. Keep the steering wheel straight and DO NOT hit the brakes. Ease off the gas pedal and place your vehicle in neutral or shift into a lower gear to gain more control. Steer your car in the direction you want to go, and you’ll be fine!
Ah, slush. We don’t know anyone who likes this stuff. It makes everything dirty whether it’s your vehicle or your shoes. It’s simply unavoidable!
This often happens when the temperature rises and snow begins to melt and mix in with dirt and sand. Keep an eye out for heavy slush that can build up in your vehicle’s wheel wells. This can greatly affect your ability to steer. Be extra cautious around busses and large trucks as they can blow slush and snow onto your windshield and cause you to panic for a few seconds.
Our number one piece of advice is to SLOW DOWN. Winter driving is all about going slow.
- Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly
- Know your brakes
- Do not use cruise control when driving on slippery conditions (wet, ice, sand)
- Don’t go out! If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you think you can drive well in the snowy conditions, not everyone else can!
There’s Snow Place Like Home
We hope our tips will help keep you safe on the road this winter, no matter what the conditions are. Use these as a guide and remember to just use common sense. If you’re ever feeling scared, try to pull over or stop in a parking lot and ride the storm out with your hazards on. Stay safe out there and if your vehicle is feeling underprepared for winter, give us a call!