Although the official first day of Spring is just around the corner, much of Canada continues to be buried deep in winter. With record-breaking snowfalls and thermometer-busting extreme cold, it’s important to be prepared for nasty weather on the roads. And while many of us are trying our best to forget about winter, when the temperature drops and the snow falls, you need to know these 10 tips for staying safe behind the wheel:

  1. Plan Ahead – When road conditions become severe, the best winter driving tip is to plan ahead. Check traffic and weather reports regularly and look at alternative routes when appropriate. You should also always be prepared and keep extra clothes and blankets in your vehicle.
  2. Slow down – Even on a cold day, tires can cause snow to melt and the moisture will freeze on the roadway. What looks like bare pavement may be the dreaded black ice that can cause your tires to lose traction, increasing your braking distance. When safe to do so, driving below the speed limit gives you more time to react to your surroundings and brake if you need to.
  3. Rethink your routine – You may love that side street shortcut for having no stoplights, but when winter weather hits, check road conditions and go with routes that use main roads that will be salted and plowed.
  4. Give your Car the All Clear – Scraping snow and ice off the car is a Canadian nightmare and a rite of passage. It’s also critical that it’s done right. That means ensuring your vehicle is completely clear (windows, mirrors, lights, and roof)!
  5. Prepare to Stop – When it’s slippery out there, give yourself more time to stop when approaching traffic, intersections and stop signs.
  6. Constant Vigilance – Blizzards and the sun’s glare make for very poor visibility. Toques, hoods and bundling up from the cold can restrict a pedestrian’s view of traffic, so watch carefully for pedestrians.
  7. Give Yourself Some Space – Did we mention it takes longer to stop? A fender-bender is the last thing anyone needs on a cold day, so allow extra space between you and the car in front of you.
  8. Let there be Light – Keep your headlights on at all times so other drivers and pedestrians can see you, from the front and from behind.
  9. Get Winter Tires – You wear winter boots, so why shouldn’t your car? Make sure you have them on all four wheels.
  10. Phone Charger – Make sure you literally have the power to call for help, if you need it. Consider having an extra in-car phone charger handy.

Looking for additional winter driving tips? Check out these helpful links from bloggers Cole Q, Candace Derickx, and Alisha Brignall.

And just in case you ever are stuck, there are some survival essentials that everyone should keep in their car during the winter months, including booster cables, extra clothing and footwear, blankets, a small shovel, windshield washer fluid, food rations, candles and matches, and a flashlight. Emergency Car Kits can be easily customized to fit weather conditions in your area. Tell us how driving has been in your hometown this winter, and let us know your top tips for what items to include for winter driving safety.