HOW TO: Drive In The Snow

Brr! Winter is here, and as the temperature drops, the consequences of careless driving start to rise. Accidents happen to everyone, but we have some tips on how to drive in the snow to get to your destination safely.

Plan Ahead with Winter Driving Tips

Maintain a safe distance: Snow, ice, and slush leaves roads slippery, reducing your reaction time. To be safe and ensure you can come to a complete stop if needed, leave double the distance you normally would for sunny, dry driving conditions.
Prepare your vehicle for winter conditions: Preparation is key to staying safe on the road, and with advanced warning of oncoming snow storms and freezing rain, there’s no excuse to not keep your car prepared for winter road conditions. It’s not the law to have snow tires in BC, but if you’re going to be driving on snowy roads, it’s a good idea to have them on your vehicle. If you’ll be heading to the mountains, think about chaining up. Keep blankets, water, and spare food in your car in case you get stuck.
Watch your speed: Maintaining a safe speed is just as important as maintaining a safe distance on winter roads. Don’t assume that your car can stop in the same amount of time. Snow and ice make braking less effective, and the faster your car is going the longer it will take to come to a complete stop. Slow down and reduce your risk of an accident.
Look for road hazards: Be vigilant while you drive and watch for hidden debris, black ice, and other road hazards that could cause an accident.

How To React To a Skid

Sometimes you can take all the necessary precautions but still end up sliding down the street towards a line of parked cars. These more advanced winter maneuvers are for when things turn south.

Hydroplaning: Hydroplaning is when a vehicle’s tires lose contact with the road and “float” on water or slush on the road. Your first reaction might be to hit the brakes, but don’t—to come out of a hydroplane safely, ease off the gas and keep steering in the direction you need to go. Your tires will reconnect with the road, and your vehicle will recover.
Black Ice: Road conditions can change quickly in winter, which can lead to black ice forming in unexpected places. If you hit black ice, follow the same general rules for hydroplaning. Avoid braking, ease off the gas, and look and steer in the direction you want to go in.

The bottom line for safely driving in the snow? Reduce speed, increase following distance, and prepare your vehicle for winter conditions. If you’re still uncomfortable, opt for a taxi or transit to get you to your destination safe and on time.