With winter snow, driving it in can be a challenge, even for the most experienced.
Being prepared is essential as this can be the difference between an expensive tow charge or ouch vehicle repairs.
First off, take a moment and look at your tires; if they don't show either a snow symbol or M+S (note above highway sign, we will mention this further down in this post). If your tires have either of these, they are suitable for winter driving. If not, well, think about alternate transportation such as public transit, a friend (with proper tires, of course) or Uber/Lyft (in urban areas).
Most interior highways require mandatory snow tires during the winter months. For example, in BC, from October 01st through April 30th, mandatory snow tires are required for all passenger vehicles. Also, tire chains are not a suitable replacement. In BC, the fine is $121, but you can also expect that the police will take your vehicle out of service as you cant safely continue your drive results in tow charges that can be as high as $1,000. You can also be in big trouble if you get into an accident in a snow tire mandatory area with your wrong tires as insurance companies can rule your insurance voided.
Now, if you are driving well, take a look at our driving suggestions:
While we already covered the snow tires, next is to plan your route. Here are the links for most government driving web sites (Click to open):
- 511 Alberta
- Highway Hotline – Government of Sask
- 511 Manitoba
- Ontario 511
- Quebec 511
- 511 New Brunswick
- Highway Camera Nova Scotia
- Road Conditions PEI
- Major Driving Routes NFLD
- 511 Yukon
- Highway Conditions NWT
- Nunavut Live Webcams
Packing the car does sound like it is a little over the top but think about it for a second. If your vehicle becomes stuck, a shovel may save a tow charge, and if your vehicle does become disabled, even in the mild west coast nighttime, temperatures are still cold!
Clean your car of any snow (it is the law) as well as making sure your lights (front and back) are clear and clean and being visible can prevent you from ouch an accident.
When you are driving in snow, accelerate slow and steady (nothing sudden). Being gentle will allow your tires to keep traction.
Coast to slow down, downshifting before you think about braking and if you need to brake slow if you feel yourself sliding – take the foot off the brake, then retry.
Leave at least ten car lengths (highways and hills) and five car lengths in urban areas as you need this extra distance to come to a stop in snow or ice conditions safely.
Steering is slow; steady motions are essential. Any fast movements can make the vehicle slide. When taking a corner, make wide turns; tight turns are dangerous.
Leave that cellphone alone, seriously you should know this by now, and this does not only apply in winter conditions!
Some people think that if they have a 4×4 truck or big SUV, they can drive in any conditions without any worry – well, the heavier the vehicle, the harder it is to stop or control in winter conditions.
Before you start the drive, deep breath and make sure you have your full concentration on your drive. And two hands on the wheel, skip the drive-thru for the coffee or snack.
Where do we get the advice from? Every month, I drive from Christina Lake to Vancouver and do this in the worst weather conditions (the last drive has about 7 feet of snow. While I enjoy sunshine and summer, I enjoy the snow as long as I am looking through a window!