In cold weather, drivers know to be extra, extra cautious on the road.

Snow, slush, ice, and the drop in temperature mean less traction and difficulty stopping. Wintery weather conditions mean reduced visibility, requiring drivers to remain extra vigilant.

Increasing stopping distance, preventing collisions

While Ford engineers are doing their best to help you win the battle against the winter blues, these worsening conditions mean increased potential for accidents. Winter drivers need to afford themselves as much reaction time as possible to avoid possible collisions.

Stopping distance is how long it takes for your vehicle to reach a complete stop from the moment you first hit the brakes. The faster your vehicle is moving, the longer it takes to stop. It’s an important calculation that drivers must constantly make while driving in all types of weather.

And in the winter, with all those cold weather variables, stopping distance is more crucial than ever.

The speed at which you are traveling, your vehicle’s proximity to the vehicle in front of you, and the type and condition of your tires are just a few factors that determine how quickly and safely you are able to bring your vehicle to an emergency stop. Well-maintained winter tires can mean the difference between a near-hit and a full on collision.

Take a look at the difference winter tires can make in your stopping distance in snowy conditions, compared to regular all-seasons*:

Properly inflated winter tires can help shorten braking distances by up to 25% in temperatures below 7°C and are essential in the colder months. Channel your inner pit crew and swap in a set of weather appropriate rubber!

Better late than skidding

Don’t rush – delays are a winter reality – so always drive according to the road and weather conditions. Remember that posted speed limits are designated with ideal driving conditions in mind; slow your roll on roads that are snowy, icy, wet or when the weather is cold. Look ahead so that you can spot potential hazards well in advance, maximizing driver reaction time. Drive cautiously – sudden acceleration, quick turns and braking can all lead to dangerous skidding and potential loss of control of your vehicle.

Black ice can be particularly treacherous. Roads may look normal but can have a hidden glaze of ice. Keep your guard up and your speed down, especially when driving over bridges or overpasses – these areas are particularly susceptible to the formation of black ice.

The weather can quickly sour, so doing your homework is important. It’s a good habit to check your local weather and road conditions before committing to a journey; budget for extra driving time, and ensure that someone knows where you are and at what time you plan to arrive.

Don’t text and drive, but do have a charged phone in your vehicle, along with a warm pair of gloves, a windshield scraper, and a host of other handy items. Check out our winter safety kit for more details on lifesavers to have on hand in case of an emergency!

Do you have a friend who never changes their tires? Tell us about it below or tag them in the comments on the Ford Canada Facebook page!

*Estimate based on vehicles traveling in a straight line at a speed of 50km/h equipped with all-wheel drive in temperatures of -20 ° c with 3 to 5 cm of compacted snow / ice on asphalt surface. Vehicles equipped with automatic transmission anti-lock brakes. Estimates provided from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.