Tips for Safe Driving in Snow

The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it.

Don't go out until the snow ploughs and salt/brine trucks have had a chance to do their work, and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination.

Below are some tips to driving safely in snow and ice conditions.

  • Before starting your trip, check the current road conditions and weather forecast for the areas you will be travelling. Listen to the radio or visit www.drivebc.ca
  • Plan your route ahead of time to avoid any roads that may become dangerous during bad weather.
  • Leave lots of time so you're not rushing to get to where you need to be. Try to travel during daylight only and let someone know your route and planned arrival time.
  • Keep at least four seconds distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to allow plenty of room in situations where you may have to brake suddenly on a slippery surface.
  • Reduce your speed to match road conditions. In snow, it is safer to drive below the posted speed.
  • Watch for black ice - a thin coating of ice, which is almost invisible but is hazardous when braking and steering. Slow down when approaching shaded areas, bridges and overpasses as these sections of road freeze sooner than others in cold weather.
  • Accelerate and brake slowly. When starting from a stop on slick roads, start slowly and accelerate gradually to maintain traction and avoid spinning your wheels. When stopping, plan well in advance. Apply the brakes gently and slowly add pressure rather than braking suddenly.
  • Turn off cruise control. If your wheels begin to skid and you don't step on the brake to stop, the continued acceleration can cause you to overdrive the road conditions and lose wheel traction and control of the vehicle.
  • Bring warm clothing (winter boots, coat, gloves and a hat) with you in case you have to get out of your vehicle.
  • If you need to go out in a storm, take someone else with you. Two people can usually get a car unstuck, when one person can't.
  • If you get stuck or stranded, don't panic. Stay with your vehicle for safety and warmth. If you have a cell phone and it is an emergency, call 911, otherwise call for roadside assistance.

For more seasonal driving tips, visit DriveBC.

Tips to Prepare Your Car for Winter Weather

There are simple things you can do to prepare your car for winter driving and safety:

  • Install winter tires.
  • Get your car winter ready with a maintenance check up.
  • Clear snow and ice from all windows, lights, mirrors, the hood and roof.
  • Make sure your water reservoir is full and carry extra windshield washer fluid in your vehicle.
  • Keep your gas tank topped up. This will help to avoid condensation and moist air on the inside of the tank, which can cause fuel lines to freeze and other serious issues.
  • If you have a cell phone, charge it and bring it with you.

Vehicle Winter Survival Kit

Be prepared by packing a winter survival kit. Recommended items include:

  • Emergency kit containing non-perishable food, blankets and first aid supplies
  • Windshield scraper and snow brush
  • Extra windshield washer fluid
  • Antifreeze
  • Flares and matches or lighter
  • Tire chains and gloves
  • Shovel and sand
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery jumper cables
  • Spare tire, wheel wrench and jack
  • Extra clothing and footwear
  • Sandbags for extra weight

When travelling outside of urban areas, ensure your emergency kit also contains:

  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • Candles and matches
  • High energy food
  • Empty can for melting snow
  • Tow rope