Whether you’re new to Canada or have lived here for many years, you have come to be familiar with how much snow falls during the winter months. Some days, Canadian roads have barely any snow on them while other days, it seems like snow keeps piling up on our roads. Driving in snowy conditions (no matter the amount) can make any type of driver, experienced or novice, a bit nervous and unsettled. Learning how to safely navigate your vehicle through snowy conditions is an essential skill Canadian drivers must know, as a driver you must be prepared for any weather condition that may pose a risk to your driving. At Trubicars, we have identified some safe and helpful tips to consider and keep in mind while you are driving on snowy roads and in snowy conditions.
1 Before you Leave:
- Check the forecast and road conditions: Prior to any road trip, checking the weather forecast can help you to know what kind of weather you will be driving in. By checking the status of the roads as well, you can gauge which roads will be cleared and which ones you might want to avoid traveling on. Most news stations will give road users an update as to which roads are clear and which are not. You can also always ask friends or family members who also drive, what road conditions are like.
- Pre-heat and Clear snow and ice debris from your vehicle: By starting your vehicle a couple of minutes before you drive, you are giving your car cabin and engine a chance to heat up. Additionally, pre-heating your vehicle can help melt some of the snow and ice that is on your vehicle. It’s important to clear off any snow and ice that doesn’t melt, so that your license plate, your mirrors, your headlights, and taillights are visible and so that you can see the road better.
- Perform a pre-trip check: Before leaving for a trip, regardless of the length of your road trip, you should always perform a pre-road trip check. This ensures that your vehicle is in proper working order. There are quick checks that you can do such as checking tire pressure, topping up on fluids such as windshield washer fluid and oil level, checking your head and tail lights and ensuring your horn works. If you are low on any of the above fluids or tire pressure, be sure to safely top them up. Vehicles require regular maintenance, and in the winter months you may need to maintain your vehicle more frequently. If you are unsure about what your vehicle may need in order to run smoothly, consider visiting a local trusted mechanic.
- Have a winter driving survival kit: In case of emergency, it’s better to be safe than sorry and ensure you have any supplies you may need in case you get stranded on the road during inclement weather. Some supplies include (but are not limited to):
- First Aid Kit (including any necessary medications)
- Extra warm clothing and footwear
- Non-perishable foods
- Booster cables
- Winter tires: If you haven’t installed winter tires on your vehicle, consider swapping out your summer tires for winter ones. Winter tires are specially made to give you better traction and control, and help with fuel consumption.
2 While you are Driving:
- Slow down and give yourself time: Be sure to drive the speed limit and if you don’t feel safe driving at a high speed, turn your hazard lights on to alert other drivers around you that you are driving a bit slower due to the road conditions. Always be sure to give yourself enough time to safely reach your destination when it comes to bad weather. It’s better to leave early and arrive early than to rush and potentially put yourself or others in a dangerous situation while trying to navigate through inclement weather.
- Following Distance: Drivers should always be aware of the space around them while they are driving. In Ideal driving conditions, you should follow the 3-second rule (Where you leave at least 3 seconds between you and the car in front of you), however, in snowy weather, it is a better idea to increase the distance between you and the car in front of you. This way, you can give yourself more time to react and avoid a collision.
- Eliminate any and all distractions: While you are driving, regardless of the conditions, your attention should always remain on the road. In snowy conditions, you need to pay extra close attention to the road as there are many more potential hazards. By removing any and all distractions, you are allowing yourself to give your full attention to whatever you may experience on your commute.
- Practice safe driving techniques: No matter your level of experience with operating a motorized vehicle it’s always good to know how to regain control of your vehicle if you happen to slide due to snow or ice build-up on the road. When you are approaching a turn, slowly begin to brake before you turn your steering wheel. If you feel yourself sliding, gently release your foot off the gas pedal and be sure to turn your wheel in the direction you want your vehicle to go.
At Trubicars, we recognize and encourage our students to remember that driving is a big responsibility, and it is your duty as an operator of a motorized vehicle to ensure that you remain safe and responsible behind the wheel. If you are looking for more information on how to safely drive in snowy conditions, check out the Trubicars website!