Winter driving during frigid Canadian temperatures can be a challenge for even experienced drivers. A study conducted by Angus Reid found that most Ontario drivers surveyed at the time were ready for the upcoming winter driving season. Almost all surveyors said they were mostly prepared and over half said they felt completely ready.
Despite the reassuring numbers, every year when winter rolls around, we experience a spike in collisions and accidents, especially during the first snowfall. We know winter driving can be tricky to navigate and so, with your safety in mind, here’s our top winter driving tips.
Preparation is prevention
Make sure you clear your car of ice and snow before you get in. Ice and snow can obstruct your view and affect the safety of your driving. Use a snow scraper and/or brush to scrape the ice off your windshield and windows and dust off the snow from blocking your line of sight when driving.
With the winter weather, sliding on ice can be inevitable even for seasoned drivers taking the proper precautions, don’t panic - this is what you need to do:
- Brake gently by easing into it, abrupt braking can lead to more sliding.
- Do not overturn your steering wheel, steer deliberately when you need it.
- Ease into accelerating, if your wheels spin too fast, they are more likely to lose control.
- Keep a safe distance between you and other vehicles to avoid colliding in case you slide.
There is no doubt that winter tires play an important role in your safety, they mitigate the risk of accidents caused by cold weather such as snow, ice, and frost. Once the weather hits below 7 degrees Celsius, “cold weather tires” become effective. Making the switch from all-season tires to winter tires can give you the benefit of: up to 50% more traction, increased control on slippery roads and up to 25% shorter braking distance.
As of January 2016, all Ontario insurance providers are required to offer an auto insurance discount for clients that have their family vehicle(s) equipped with all four winter tires. If you’re shopping for car insurance, check out all the other discounts Onlia has to offer.
Winter car maintenance
There are several things to look out for when the weather turns icy. Winter weather can be unpredictable, it is important to stay on top of your car’s maintenance.
- Ensure that your wiper blades are durable and in good working order before embarking on your journey.
- Double check that your windshield wiper fluid is always sufficient – you may be finding yourself clearing your windshield often due to salt stains and slushy weather.
- Store an ice scraper or snow brush in your trunk so you can de-ice your windshield on frosty days.
With cold weather comes ice and snow – and these conditions can cause deterioration in your vehicle. Here are a few methods to shield your car from the winter elements to help keep it in tip top shape:
- Remember to lubricate your vehicle’s locks, latches, and doors with WD-40 to reduce the risk of them getting stuck or frosted over.
- If possible, park in a garage to avoid the frigid nighttime temperatures – if you do not have that option, park outside with a block heater or electric engine blanket to avoid your engine becoming iced.
- If you’re anticipating a storm or icy weather, leave your wiper blades up to prevent ice buildup and freezing.
- Snow debris and salt stains can buildup on your car affecting its performance, make sure to wash your car every few weeks to avoid buildup.
- Ensure that your tires are inflated – measure your tire pressure to make sure it is up to standard for your safety.
Preventative measures can only go so far – sometimes, incidents happen despite our best efforts to stay safe. Be ready for anything by keeping a winter emergency kit in your car. Here is what you should include in your winter-ready emergency stock:
Car accessoires and technical tools
- Ice scraper and brush
- Jumper cable, gears to change a flat tire, and a tow rope
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Non-clumping kitty litter – put this under your tires to avoid traction
- First aid kit
- Roadside emergency supplies: flares, reflecting warning triangle, and emergency whistle can help others locate where you are in times of an emergency
- High energy food that doesn’t expire
- Reup on fresh water every time you hit the road
- Phone charger and/or power pack
- Winter clothes and a heavy blanket
- Candle, waterproof matches and one that can keep the flame in
Winter driving – especially in Canada – can be intimidating. With these tips, you should be able to set out on your journey and stay safe, even in the harshest of weather. Looking for coverage in case of a wintertime collision? Get a quote at Onlia.ca.