Cold winter driving on the highway

Driving Safely in Winter Conditions

DF SafetyEnvironmental Hazards, Health and Safety Tips

Last week marked the first (of many!) snowfalls for Edmontonians. Which, of course, means we were quickly reminded of the do’s and don’t of driving safely in winter conditions.

You always want to be prepared, plan, and be sure to give yourself extra time when travelling to and from your destination. Being rushed is never a good safety plan, but even more so during the snowy months. If the weather is extremely treacherous, and you are able, stay home. At the end of the day, your safety, and the safety of others, is what matters most.

When driving on slippery, snowy roads, you always want to give yourself plenty of space between you and other cars. A good rule of thumb is at least two car lengths. The more distance between you and other motorists, the more time you give yourself to come to a complete stop without incident.

Always adjust the speed of your vehicle to account for the weather conditions. Therefore, if you need to drive more slowly than you would under normal weather conditions, you should. This is another reason why giving yourself extra travel time is so important. Be gentle with the gas, accelerate and decelerate slowly to avoid slipping all over the road.

Every vehicle should be equipped with warm clothes in case of emergency. Pack extra gloves, toques, and snowpants. If you aren’t dressed for the weather when travelling during the winter, be sure to put your winter jacket and warm boots in the backseat or trunk in case you end up stranded, in an accident, or find yourself needing to help another motorist.

It is a good idea to have jumper cables, or a handheld jumper starter in your vehicle as well. You may want to stash some snacks and water too (choose items that have a longer shelf life and replace every few weeks or as needed).

If you have (and you should!) a first aid kit in your vehicle, take a look to see if it needs to be restocked or if there are any items that should be added or removed. If you aren’t sure what to include, here are some ideas:

  • A flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Band-Aids, and disinfectant
  • Jumper cables
  • A shovel
  • Flares
  • A tire repair kit and pump
  • Matches and a candle that can burn for an extended amount of time

While we certainly hope you won’t find yourself in an emergency, I always say it is better to be overprepared than underprepared.

Remember to stay warm, and safe, on those wintery roads!