Winter Driving Tips

Edited by Admin

Winter driving tips can help you stay safe this winter. Learn more about equipping your vehicle and driving safe.


Winter Driving


As Canadians, we know that we need to take extra precautions on icy roads and streets during the winter months. In poor weather, collision rates rise, and many of these accidents are preventable. Although most of us are used to frigid temperatures, plenty of snow, and icy roads, even the most experienced drivers may need to take a moment or two to ensure that they’re fully prepared for winter conditions.

Keep a Winter Emergency Kit in the Vehicle


No one wants to contemplate a situation where you are trapped in your car during a blizzard, but it can happen. If it happens to you, you’ll be glad that you took the time to prepare an emergency kit. According to the Government of Canada, here are some of the items to pack into your trunk before venturing out in winter weather:

  • Food that won't spoil, such as energy bars 
  • Water—plastic bottles that won't break if the water freezes (replace them every six months) 
  • Blanket
  • Extra clothing and shoes or boots
  • First aid kit with seatbelt cutter 
  • Small shovel, scraper, and snowbrush 
  • Candle in a deep can and matches 
  • Wind‑up flashlight 
  • Whistle—in case you need to attract attention
  • Roadmaps
  • Numbers for help such as the OPP non-emergency number: 1-888-310-1122. 
  • Sand, salt, or cat litter (non-clumping) to help with traction
  • Extra antifreeze and windshield washer fluid 
  • Tow rope
  • Jumper cables
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Warning light or road flares

Tips for Safe Driving

  1. Safe winter driving begins before you leave home! Make sure that your vehicle is winterized. Put winter tires on before the first snowfall; they provide much better traction, handling, and braking than “all-weather” tires do. (Remember that tires may lose pressure in low temperatures and check tire pressure often.) If you don’t have a block heater for your engine, install one, and use it when temperatures dip below -15. Top up all fluids, including antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid rated for -40. Check wipers, battery, and ignition system. Check lights. Keep your tank filled with gas; this can reduce excess moisture in the fuel system.

    Before setting out, choose your route and check with local authorities about the road conditions. (For Ontario highway conditions, go to or call 511.) Stick to the main roads in winter conditions. Watch weather forecasts closely. If conditions are bad, or are expected to become dangerous, don’t hesitate to cancel your trip.

    Dress comfortably. Make sure that whatever winter clothing you are wearing is not restrictive, and that you will still be able to shoulder-check, etc.

    Give yourself extra travel time in winter. If you need to be somewhere by a certain time, leave earlier than necessary. Be careful of using GPS estimates regarding timing; these devices do not take driving conditions into account.

    Charge your cellphone fully before leaving the house and keep a cellphone charger in the vehicle. Take a portable charger if possible, too.

    Before pulling out of the driveway, clear all the ice and snow from your windows, mirrors, lights, and roof. Wait until any fog has cleared from the glass before setting out.

  2. Slow down! Speed is a major cause of winter accidents. Drive for the conditions around you, not the posted speed limit. In winter, roads may be more treacherous than they look. Sometimes black ice is hidden from sight, other times partially thawing roads can be deceptively slippery. Drive smoothly and slowly and reduce speed even more on turns.

  3. Turn your lights on. Make sure you are visible.

  4. Keep a safe distance. Don’t tailgate any vehicle, as it will take you longer to stop on winter roads. Be especially careful of snow plows, since plow drivers may not be able to see you, and they raise clouds of snow that will make visibility difficult for you, too. Never pass a snowplow.

  5. Avoid using cruise control, which can make it easier to lose control in bad weather. If your car hydroplanes, cruise control will try to speed up, creating a dangerous situation.

  6. Know the best way to recover from a skid. This can vary from vehicle to vehicle, depending on whether you have front wheel, rear wheel, or four-wheel drive, and whether or not you have an anti-lock braking system.

  7. Pay attention. Everything takes longer to execute in snow and ice conditions. Make sure you know what’s going on around you, and where you need to be.

  8. Learn more. Various driving schools offer short winter driving clinics that can be extremely helpful. If you are new to winter driving, or if you need to brush up your skills, find one near you.

Before taking your car out of the garage this winter, make sure you’ve done everything you can to keep you and your family safe.