As responsible drivers, keeping ourselves and others safe on the road should always be our main concern, regardless of the time of year. While winter weather can present some difficulties, keeping these basic road safety guidelines in mind will provide us and our passengers with a worry-free journey.
1. Winter tires vs all-season tires
Proper tire selection is crucial for safe winter driving. Winter tires are optimized for cold and snowy conditions and feature single-directional tread patterns that expel snow and ice while driving. Their soft rubber and deep tread improve flexibility and traction, ensuring a secure grip on roads throughout the winter.
It's worth noting that all-season tires are not suitable for every country's weather conditions. Since Canadian winters are among the harshest and coldest worldwide, winter tires provide the best protection for daily driving. Additionally, certain provinces legally mandate the use of winter tires for driving. For example, in Quebec, equipping winter tires to your vehicle is required by law until March 15th, and in British Columbia, most routes require winter tires or chains until April 30th.
2. Be ready in case of an emergency
In case of any unforeseen incidents on the road, it's crucial to have all the necessary items until help arrives. We suggest gathering these items and storing them together in the trunk, to ensure you are ready for any emergency:
- First aid kit
- Granola bars
- Snow brush with ice scraper
- Small shovel
- Reflective pylons
- Jumper cables
3. Add a little extra space between you and other drivers
To maintain a safe driving distance, the general rule of thumb on the road is to keep at least a 2-second gap between your vehicle and the one in front of you. However, during winter, particularly in snowy conditions, it's advisable to increase this distance to accommodate any potential slippery patches on the road.
4. Avoid cruise control and let it hibernate in the winter months
While cruise control is an excellent feature to utilize on long, straight, and dry highways, it's not always a safe option. Avoid using it on winding roads, during heavy traffic, and, of course, in winter driving conditions. Essentially, cruise control should only be employed when you can maintain a consistent speed. Slippery roads and cruise control do not mix well and can cause skidding and other hazardous situations.
5. Keep your gas tank at least half full
When the gas tank is almost empty, there is a possibility of moisture accumulating in the line, resulting in water contamination. In colder weather, this can cause the water to freeze, leading to decreased fuel efficiency or even engine damage.
Winter driving can take us to some truly enchanting destinations such as skating rinks, ski slopes, and hot springs. By ensuring a safe arrival at every location, we can make the most of the season and help everyone else do the same.