Winter driving emergencies can be reduced by planning ahead

Winter preparation starts by ensuring your vehicle is ready for winter weather, making sure you can cope with colder temperatures, and increasing awareness when behind the wheel.

Car preparation

  • Check the car including the charge in the battery, fluid levels including anti-freeze, ignition wiring, lights and signals, tires (minimum 1/8" tread life), brakes, windshield wipers and washers.
  • Remember to keep the fuel tank at least half-full at all times.
  • Add weight to the back of rear wheel drive vehicles, including pick-ups, to improve traction.

Winter driving kit

Keep the following items, which are invaluable during a winter driving emergency, in your vehicle:

  • Tire chains;
  • Abrasive material such as sand or kitty litter;
  • A small shovel;
  • A flashlight;
  • An ice scraper;
  • Rags or paper towels;
  • First-aid kit;
  • Blankets;
  • Flares or other warning devices;
  • Booster (jumper) cables.
  • When driving over high-elevations, add boots and newspapers (which can be used as insulation between skin and clothing).

In addition, it is a good idea to pack bottled water and some snacks, such as energy bars. And be sure your mobile phone is fully charged before you hit the road.

** Please remember that it is usually best to remain with a stranded vehicle rather than risk exposure or become lost while walking for help.**

Drive smart

Rain, snow and ice impair your ability to see and increase the braking distance required to stop your vehicle.

Before you leave:

  • Let others know your travel plans, including destination, route, and expected time of arrival so they can alert authorities if you don't make it to your destination.
  • Dress according to weather conditions.
  • Keep windows clear of snow, ice, and fog.
  • Pay attention to weather forecasts and police warnings. When police or highway officials say driving is very hazardous, stay off the road except for essential travel.

While you drive:

  • Slow down.
  • Get the "feel" of the road away from traffic when you start driving. Try your brakes lightly so you will know what to expect.
  • Increase the distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
  • Apply the brakes sooner and more gently than usual. When braking, consider the type of braking system you have and how to apply brakes properly (for example, don't pump anti-lock brakes).
  • Do not slam on your brakes to stop on snow or ice. If you slam on the brakes, your vehicle will almost always skid. Instead, gently press the brakes and then release them.
  • Make gentle stops and starts to prevent skids. Remember that temperature plays a part in stopping ability. The road is likely to be the most slippery when ice is near the freezing point rather than at lower temperatures.
  • Keep a light, steady foot on the gas pedal.
  • Drive at a speed that is reasonable and cautious for the existing conditions - the law requires it!
  • Turn headlights on from sunset to sunrise.
  • Turn lights on any time conditions make it difficult to see people or vehicles 1,000 feet ahead. By using your headlights on rainy, snowy, or foggy days, you will help other drivers see you and give yourself an extra safety margin.
  • Make turns at a reduced, steady speed to avoid a skid.
  • Watch for danger spots ahead. Bridges and shaded areas freeze first and may remain icy after the rest of the road is free of ice.
  • When you go uphill on an ice-covered or snowy road, apply just enough power to maintain motion, without causing the wheels to spin.
  • Do not use cruise control.


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