Top Ten Commandments of Winter Driving
Ontario drivers are no strangers to the hazards of winter driving. Every year, we’re faced with snowy, icy roads and we’re forced to adapt our driving to drive safely in the winter.
While there are a lot of ways to drive safely in the winter, these are the top ten commandments you should adhere to:
1. Don’t slam on the accelerator or brakes
One of the easiest ways to get into a car accident during the winter is to slam on the brakes or accelerator. Instead, try easing on and off the pedals during the winter. This will enable your tires to get better traction on the snowy roads and prevent you from slipping and sliding — and always give yourself extra time to stop during snowy conditions.
2. Give yourself more time
Driving during a snowstorm is going to take you more time to get where you’re going. Even if you’re just driving the same route to work that you do every day, you should give yourself some wiggle room to get there. This will allow you to take it slower and you won’t feel the need to rush, which could result in an accident.
3. Keep your distance
During the warmer months, drivers typically give themselves a space of three to four seconds behind the car in front of them. During the winter, you should double this distance to give yourself more time to stop. There are lots of hazards during the winter that could cause the car in front of you to slam on the brakes, and you want to be prepared for this.
4. Get your brakes checked
Your brakes should always be in great shape, but this is especially true during the winter. Get your brakes checked before the first snowfall so you know whether they’re in good condition or if they should be replaced. Consider upgrading to higher quality brakes if you’ve had issues in the past.
5. Have the right tires
In Ontario, there is no law that says you need winter tires on your car, like there is in Quebec. But even if it’s not mandatory, it’s important that you consider getting winter tires for your car as they’ll better prepare you for winter driving conditions. Winter tires have deeper tread and other features that help you get a grip on the roads. And remember: all-season tires are not the same as winter tires.
6. Be prepared
In case of an accident or a sudden dumping of snow, you should always have a few things in your car so you’re prepared for the worst. Have a shovel, a bag of salt, gloves, a scraper and some blankets in your trunk or the back seat so you’re prepared if anything happens to you on the road.
7. Clear your vehicle of snow before driving
We’ve all seen those people who clear of all the snow from their windows and mirrors, but leave a foot of snow on the roof of the car. Don’t be that person. Any snow left on your car can blow onto your windshield or back window and reduce visibility, making driving incredibly dangerous for you and those around you.
8. Learn how to to prevent sliding
There are winter driving courses available that can teach you how to prevent your car from sliding on the snow. Consider taking a course or having another driver teach you, and practice before heading out on a particularly snowy day. You can prevent sliding and skidding by steering into the skid and keeping your eyes where you want to go.
9. Don’t depend on all-wheel drive
All-wheel drive (AWD) is useful in a number of situations, but it doesn’t take the place of having a good set of winter tires. AWD only helps with acceleration and is essentially useless when it comes to helping you stop or increase traction in the snow. Don’t depend on AWD as a safety feature.
10. Stay inside
On the snowiest days of the year, the roads could be treacherous no matter how skilled a driver you are. On these days, it’s best to consider staying inside if you can. Work from home if you can, reschedule your social plans and forget about running any errands you had planned for the day.
Before you head out onto those wintery roads, check out our winter maintenance checklist to make sure your car is prepared!