How to prepare for driving in the snow

By Kijiji Autos
How to prepare for driving in the snow

Whether you've recently moved provinces or are gearing up for your first winter behind the wheel, driving in the snow can often be an unnerving experience. It takes a special approach and lots of patience to get comfortable driving on slippery surfaces. These tips are designed to help you master the art of driving on snow and ice.

Plan ahead as much as possible

You’ll quickly learn that driving in winter can be made much easier by simply setting aside some time to prepare. Write up a mental list of things to check before heading out into the snow:

  • How’s your car? Inspect the tires, brakes, battery, engine and windshield.
  • What’s the weather forecast? Although driving in the snow isn’t always avoidable, you might want to hang up the keys if a blizzard is coming.
  • Do you have a winter survival kit? This is comprised of simple items, such as an ice scraper, safety vest, antifreeze, extra blankets, etc., to ensure you’re covered should something unexpected happen while on the road.

Better safe than sorry

It’s important to give yourself plenty of time when driving in the snow, and it’s always dangerous to rush and speed while behind the wheel. You become especially hazardous to yourself and everyone else on the road when you speed in the snow.

Staying alert is crucial during winter driving. A road may suddenly become more slippery depending on a number of factors. Certain streets are plowed and salted more frequently than others, while even the type of concrete or asphalt can determine how slick a stretch of road might be. Pay attention to your surroundings and drive defensively.

Give other people lots of space

While the normal following distance rule in optimal conditions should be three to four seconds, you should give much more space to other drivers in the snow, closer to 8 to 10 seconds. Don’t expect that you’ll be able to quickly accelerate or maneuver between lanes—it’s important to be considerate of other drivers and on high alert. If you’re driving on the highway, be wary when trying to overtake another vehicle or large truck. Not only will falling snow greatly decrease your visibility, some parts of the road that remain untouched by other vehicles might be particularly slippery.

It’s crucial to remember that braking distances are significantly increased in icy conditions. Assuming the reaction times are identical, a vehicle traveling at 50 km/h on a dry road might need upwards of 35 metres to safely come to a stop. Comparatively, a car traveling at the same speed on an icy road will need at least 85 metres to come to a safe stop. This is also based on the presumption that other cars are equipped with winter tires—the distance will be even greater if they aren’t.

Driving in snow can be a stressful order for even the most experienced of motorists. That’s why it’s important to ensure that you’re up for the task. By preparing in advance and respecting the rules of the road, even the most inexperienced winter driver can master the elements.

If you’re looking for a vehicle for the snowy season, Kijiji Autos has a wide selection of winter-ready cars.

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