Top 5 Winter Driving Tips

Buying Tips & Tricks January 12, 2021

Driver Beware

As we push on into the winter months the roads tend to get sloppier and slipperier. Here in Canada, winter driving is no joke and when it comes to driving in these seasons, you need to take some extra care. It’s not fun to see a fellow driver, or worse, yourself, stuck in a ditch or snow drift over something you could’ve prevented. Here at Curbie, we want to make sure all drivers are as prepared as possible for the weather conditions so we’ve compiled the 5 following tips to help you out in the winter months. 

Step One: Prepare Your Vehicle

When it comes to winter driving, preparedness is everything. Make sure before you head out, whether for vacation or to the store, you’re prepared for the weather conditions ahead. These are just a few suggestions to keep you safe and sound. 

Winter tires are an excellent addition to any vehicle in the snow. Regardless if you drive a large 4x4 or a small front-wheel drive hatchback, winter tires have proven benefits in not only the snow and ice, but also in the drop in temperature. With conventional tires, they tend to freeze, harden and become less effective in the temperature alone, when ice and snow is introduced they become even less effective still. Winter tires are a fantastic first step for preparedness in the colder season. 

Keep an emergency kit with you. It may seem a little over-cautious, but the first time you find yourself in a snowbank you’ll be glad you had this in your vehicle. What to put in it varies depending on what you’ll find yourself in but there’s some universal basics that’ll help the most. A snow brush and ice scraper are great first steps to keep your vehicle clear of all snow and ice. Jumper cables and a tow cable will be great things to add. They ensure if you do become stranded and can find someone to help you, they’re able to actually supply the support. Alternatively, a battery booster pack would be even better than jumper cables, allowing you to jump start your vehicle on your own in the event it dies, but they require maintaining which makes them less practical for an emergency kit you never remove from your vehicle. A bag of ice salt and a small shovel will be a good idea for if you ever find yourself stuck in a large drift. Alternatively, if you want to save some money, kitty litter can be used instead of salt and can be easier to carry and transport while doing a good job of absorbing the snow. 

Make sure to always clear all windows and mirrors completely before driving. Even while driving snow and ice can build up again, it’s imperative you always remove this before proceeding to ensure you can see any and all hazards that could arise. 

Step Two: Drive Smoothly and Slowly 

When driving in winter, even on completely clear roads, it’s important you drive smoothly and slowly. Even though a road looks clear, it doesn't mean there isn’t frost or that the cold weather itself won’t reduce the grip from your tires to the surface of the road. Any abrupt stops or turns without appropriate time can cause your vehicle to lose traction and skid. Driving too fast is the main cause of winter collisions. Ensure you’re giving yourself enough time to react to everything on the road. Slow down, don’t tailgate and take your time. 

Step Three: Learn to Control Skids

It’s almost impossible to not wind up in a skid sooner or later in your life while winter driving, understanding what to do during it is a good first step to solving the problem if you ever find yourself in one. While all vehicles handle it differently and you will need to adjust for all vehicles, the most consistent thing is to fight your instincts and steer into the skid. Doing so will transfer the vehicle’s weight from the front to the rear and will often help vehicles regain control. 

Step Four: Lights On

Of course, the most important thing when driving in winter is visibility. It’s very common for the weather to impair vision, whether on your windshield itself or by causing whiteouts on the road. It won’t always be easy to see vehicles, especially lighter coloured vehicles, in the snow or fog. The best way to make yourself as visible as possible is to always have your lights on, even during the day. Regardless if you think you can see in the storm or not, sometimes it can still be difficult to see other vehicles, especially if someone has some kind of vision impairment. Turning on your lights not only helps the oncoming traffic to see you coming but also the approaching traffic from the rear to see your taillights through the snow. 

Step Five: Don’t Pump Your Brakes

All modern vehicles are equipped with ABS (Anti-lock Braking Systems) and they work hard to make sure your brakes never lock up. Despite the feeling your brake pedal is doing or the noise coming from the vehicle itself, the system is working and doing its best to stop sliding. Pumping the brakes actually reduces the effectiveness of the system. The safest thing to do is to apply consistent pressure and let the system correct itself safely. 

Trust Yourself

All these tips will help you in the colder months of the year. Obviously, these aren’t the only things you can do to keep yourself and others safe on the roads this winter. Ultimately, just do what you can and trust yourself in the midst of the bad weather. Fear and Anxiety can cause you to miss things. Make sure no matter what steps are taken to protect drivers you trust them and yourself on the roads.

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