Winter can be a lot of fun, but getting around is a challenge if you’re not prepared for the season’s icy surprises. Staying safe is a mixture of preparedness, knowledge, and a healthy dose of common sense. Here’s what you need to do if you want to avoid seasonal hazards and make it home safely this winter.
Winter Driving Safety Tips
- Make sure to properly winterise your car long before the first snow arrives. The first snowfall of the year always sees the most traffic accidents because many people simply aren’t prepared.
- Check the weather conditions before you leave home, and if you’re driving far, check again along the way.
- Use winter tires if you live in an area that is blessed with snow. They can shorten breaking distance by 25% and don’t lose their grip in cold weather like your summer or all-season tires.
- Give yourself extra time. You’re going to be driving more slowly in winter and should never measure the time it will take by looking at your GPS.
- Always keep your fuel tank topped up. It reduces moisture in the fuel system and helps the car slow down by providing extra weight on slippery surfaces.
- Don’t just clear your window – remove all snow and ice from your mirrors and lights before taking to the road.
- If your car has an old battery, all-season tires, or is generally unreliable, consider renting a vehicle for winter travel. You’ll feel more secure on the road, especially in a car with all-wheel drive, and won’t have to worry about the heater breaking down.
Winter Driving Essentials
The most common (and sensible) winter driving safety tip is to always be prepared. You need to pack a survival kit and leave it in your car, just in case you get caught out in a blizzard or find yourself in a ditch. At a minimum, it should contain the following items:
- Small or folding shovel
- Booster cables
- Wiper fluid
- Snow brush
- Candles and matches
- Gloves and woolen hat
- Water bottles and non-perishable food (like energy bars)
- First Aid kit
- Reflective triangles
- Basic tools
Winter Driving Statistics
Here are some statistics to consider, just in case you think our winter driving safety tips are excessive:
- 900 Americans are killed on the road during snowfalls every year, and another 76,000 are injured.
- Almost 25% of all vehicle accidents occur either during a snowfall or on snow covered roads. That figure rises to 30% in neighbouring Canada.
- Heavy snow reduces average speed on motorways by about 40%.
- Most major Canadian cities (other than Vancouver) will receive over 200cm of snow every winter.
- Parts of Scotland average over 76 days of snow every winter, and the average for the whole of the UK is around 24 days.
Winter weather doesn’t have to include snow to be downright nasty. Remember to take your time, check ahead, and be prepared for anything mother nature can throw at you.