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Tips for Safe Winter Driving

Winter driving in Canada can be nerve-wracking. When the snow flies and the temperature drops, icy roads challenge even the most experienced drivers. There are ways to be prepared for winter driving and to help ensure that your trip is a safe one. Consider these winter driving tips:

Winter Safety Checklist

1. Clear snow and ice from all windows, lights, mirrors and roof.

2. Make sure that you have plenty of windshield washer fluid and that it is rated to -40oC or lower.

3. Plan your route ahead of time. Let someone know of your destination and expected time of arrival.

4. Wear comfortable clothing that doesn't restrict your movement while at the wheel. Have warm clothing in case you need to get out of your vehicle.

5. Always keep the gas tank at least half full.

6. Bring a map and be prepared to take an alternative route.

7. Bring a cell phone.

8. Use a matching set of all-season or snow tires.

9. Spacing – a guide to safe spacing under normal driving conditions is the two-second rule. In winter, and especially during poor weather conditions, double the two-second rule.

The 2-Second Rule

  • Pick a marker on the road ahead, such as a road sign or telephone pole.
  • When the rear of the vehicle ahead passes the marker, start to count "one thousand and one, one thousand and two...".
  • When the front of your vehicle reaches the marker, stop counting.  If you reach the marker before you finish counting "one thousand and two", you are following too closely.

10. Bring a winter driving survival kit that includes:

  • Ice scraper/snowbrush
  • Shovel
  • Sand or other traction aid
  • Tow rope or chain
  • Booster cables
  • Road flares or warning lights
  • Gas line antifreeze
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Small tool kit
  • Extra clothing and footwear
  • Blanket
  • Non perishable energy foods - i.e. chocolate or granola bars, juice, instant coffee, tea, soup, bottled water
  • Candle and small tin can
  • Matches

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