Winter is upon us here in Alberta, and while the snow covered trees and crystal icicles hanging from eaves are beautiful, winter also means icy roads, unexpected snow storms, and long commutes. Driving in winter weather is unavoidable for most Canadians, and it seems that every year we have to re-learn how to drive in extreme weather conditions. We’ve compiled a list of tips to help you feel confident and safe while navigating our winter roads.
1. Be Aware
We recommend keeping an eye on the current weather conditions so you know when there is going to be heavy snowfall. There are also several resources for checking traffic conditions so you can have up-to-date information about road closures, accidents and other delays.
2. Be Prepared
It’s always a good idea to keep extra blankets, winter gear such as boots, gloves and coats in your vehicle in case your car breaks down or you slide off into a ditch. We also recommend an emergency kit which should include things like a first aid kit, flashlight with extra batteries, sand or road salt (or non-clumping kitty litter), emergency food (such as nuts and granola bars), waterproof matches, candles, and a shovel.
3. Winterize Your Vehicle
Cold weather is hard on a vehicle. You can help your vehicle to be more reliable by making sure you check the battery, belts and hoses, and tires to ensure that they are in good condition. It is also important to make sure that your winter washer fluid is topped up, as well as anti-freeze.
4. Get Winter Tires
If you have to do a lot of driving in the winter, it might be worth it to invest in a set of good winter tires. While all-season tires can handle some ice and snow, they do not provide the same safety and security that winter tires do.
5. Drive Safely
Winter driving requires drivers to be alert, aware and calm. When driving in extreme weather conditions, take your time, drive smoothly (jerking the vehicle around corners can cause the tires to lose traction), and make sure your lights are on!
6. Give Yourself Extra Time
Even if the roads seem clear, it is always smart to make sure you give yourself extra time when driving in the winter. Now is not a good time to rush to work. Instead, leaving 15-20 minutes earlier can help you to arrive safely and on-time.
7. Keep Your Car Fueled Up
We recommend always keeping your car’s fuel tank above the halfway mark. This way, if you do end up stranded on the side of a highway, you should have enough fuel to keep you warm until emergency services have arrived. Having a topped-up fuel tank also reduces moisture in your fuel system, which could cause freezing.
Have any other tips that you find useful when driving in the winter? Please feel free to share!
Happy winter, and stay safe everyone.