Snow is a fact of life in Canada, but that doesn’t make driving in it any less stressful. Getting stuck on the road during a snowstorm can be downright frightening. So, what should you do when these kinds of conditions present themselves?
The first step of course, if you can help it at all, is to not even test the snow gods by heading out when the roads are perilous. But in those situations where you’re already out, or you need to head out for an emergency, keep these tips in mind:
Before snow season arrives, make sure you have taken the steps to prepare yourself for winter driving. This includes installing winter tires, and stocking your vehicle with windshield wiper fluid, salt or sand, a snow brush and an ice scraper. In addition, it’s helpful to have an emergency kit, a flashlight, a warm blanket, some energy bars and some bottled water available. And finally, don’t head out for a winter drive without a full tank of gas.
Allow Plenty of Space
It will take much longer for your vehicle to stop in snowy or icy conditions, so be sure to allow at least double the following space you usually would between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you.
Easy on the Pedals
Vehicles tend to experience the most issues in the snow with accelerating and decelerating, so you’ll want to do what you can to avoid doing either of those too quickly. This means that you’ll want to drive slowly and, when you have to break, make sure that it is a gradual but firm pressing of the brake pedal. You’ll also want to avoid using cruise control since that setting can result in accelerations that could put you at risk in winter conditions.
Approach Hills with Caution
If and when you come across a dreaded hill, avoid the tendency to accelerate up. Instead, slowly build up some speed as you approach the base of the hill so that the momentum can carry you up without having to press too much (if at all) on the accelerator. The same goes for the way down a hill; avoid pressing on either the brake or the accelerator and coast down gently.
Know When to Pull Over
If conditions deteriorate to the point where you no longer feel capable of driving, ease your vehicle over to the side of the road. If you have a brightly colored item in your car that you could tie to your antenna, do so to both alert other vehicles to your presence and to help rescuers locate you. Do not walk away from your vehicle, as it will serve as your best shelter and source of warmth while you wait. If you run the car for heat, make sure you periodically check to make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t blocked by the snow. This could result in a dangerous situation where carbon monoxide could get into the car.
Preparation is key to successful winter driving, as is knowing your own limitations. If you don’t feel comfortable, pull over and don’t risk it. Safety first!