15 Essential Winter Driving Tips for Safe Road Travel (2023)

Driving during winter in Alberta can be challenging and stressful due to harsh weather conditions such as freezing temperatures, snow, and ice. As a result, it’s essential to be well-prepared and take necessary precautions to avoid roadside emergencies. This article provides 15 crucial tips to ensure a smooth and safe winter driving experience.

15 Essential Tips for Safe Winter Driving

1. Give Yourself Extra Time

Leave earlier than usual and allow extra time to reach your destination. Rushing can be dangerous, especially when the weather conditions are not favorable.

2. Fill Up On Fuel

Ensure that your fuel tank is at least half full. In extreme cold, fuel lines can freeze up, preventing the vehicle from starting. Running the engine to stay warm might be necessary if you’re stranded.

(Video) Top 10 Winter Driving Tips | Winter Driving Smart

3. Check Your Battery

Ensure your car’s battery is in good shape and can handle the cold weather. Having a dependable battery will prevent you from having to jump-start your vehicle.

4. Change Your Oil

Consider changing your engine oil to a winter-weight oil, such as 5W/30. This oil type moves more freely in sub-zero temperatures, making it easier on your vehicle’s engine.

5. Pack An Emergency Kit

It’s essential to have emergency kit in your car in unexpected situations. Your kit should have necessary items like a lock deicer, a can of flat tire air, a flashlight, road flares, blankets, a spare tire, a jack, spare fuses, a cell phone battery pack, booster cables, a small shovel, sandbags, and emergency heat pads.

6. Avoid Steep Roadways

Be cautious of steep roadways, especially in extreme cold and slippery conditions. Take an alternate route if possible, or proceed with extra caution.

7. Clear Your Vehicle Of Snow And Ice

Ensure that your vehicle’s glass, body, and lighting systems are clear of snow and ice. Clear visibility is vital during the winter months.

8. Plan Your Route

Check local weather reports and road conditions before traveling. Plan an alternate route if necessary to avoid congested or problematic areas.

9. Check Your Tires

Ensure that your tires have adequate tread and no apparent defects or blemishes. Keep a tire pressure gauge inside your vehicle and maintain proper inflation to reduce wear and improve driving conditions.

10. Check Your Brakes

Brakes are critical, especially during winter driving. Give yourself an extra stopping distance and ensure your brake pads are in good condition.

(Video) 5 tips to keep you safe on the road this winter

11. Check Your Antifreeze Coolant

To ensure optimal performance, it’s essential to have the appropriate amount of antifreeze coolant for your climate. Although standard antifreeze is adequate up to -32 degrees, it’s prudent to verify with local guidelines for added safety.

12. Plug Your Vehicle In

If you have a block heater, coolant heater, battery blanket, or other similar devices, plug your vehicle in when temperatures drop below freezing. Cold starts can wear out engine parts more quickly.

13. Avoid Quick Take-Offs

Avoid accelerating too quickly, as this can cause your tires to spin and result in loss of control, excessive fuel consumption, and tire wear. Gradual acceleration will help you keep better control of the vehicle.

14. Avoid Pumping Brakes

Most modern vehicles have an ABS braking system that pumps the brakes for you. If your vehicle does not have ABS, avoid pumping the brakes, as this can cause the wheels to lock up and result in loss of control.

15. Do Not Recirculate Air

During winter driving, it is advisable to avoid using the recirculating mode as it can cause heavy fogging on the inside of your car windows. Although most newer cars have fixed this issue, it is still recommended to check your car’s manual or consult a mechanic to be sure it is safe to use the recirculating mode without causing fogging.


Following these 15 essential winter driving tips, you can stay safe and problem-free on Alberta roads this winter. Remember to constantly be prepared, adjust your driving to the conditions, and stay focused on the road to avoid potential hazards. If you’re in the market for a more reliable and safe vehicle for the winter months, click here to apply now and get started.

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(Video) Winter Driving Safety | Essential Driving Tips - PSA (Public Service Announcement)

15 Essential Winter Driving Tips for Safe Road Travel (2)

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(Video) Safety tips for winter driving

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(Video) 5 tips for safer winter driving


15 Essential Winter Driving Tips for Safe Road Travel? ›

Always adjust your speed down to account for lower traction when driving on snow or ice. Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Apply the gas slowly to regain traction and avoid skids. Don't try to get moving in a hurry and take time to slow down for a stoplight.

What are 3 safe driving tips for driving in snow? ›

Driving Tips
  • Allow enough time. ...
  • Keep your gas tank full. ...
  • Keep windshield and windows clear. ...
  • Slow down. ...
  • Be more observant. ...
  • When stalled, stay with your vehicle and try to conserve fuel while maintaining warmth. ...
  • Give snowplows room to work.

What are 5 things you can do to prepare your car for winter driving? ›

Winterizing your car can take time and money, so plan ahead accordingly with this winter checklist for vehicles.
  1. Check your tire tread. ...
  2. Fill up your tires. ...
  3. Consider snow tires. ...
  4. Change your oil and antifreeze. ...
  5. Fix your heater. ...
  6. Inspect your battery.

What is one simple tip for faster safer winter driving? ›

Always adjust your speed down to account for lower traction when driving on snow or ice. Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Apply the gas slowly to regain traction and avoid skids. Don't try to get moving in a hurry and take time to slow down for a stoplight.

What temperature is too cold for cars? ›

Anything lower than 32 degrees can cause issues for your engine in terms of performance. If you sense the weather dropping, it is a good idea to start your car and let the engine run idle for a couple minutes to ensure that everything is working properly.

What 3 things are the key to vehicle control in snow? ›

3 Key Elements for Safe Winter Driving
  • Reduce your speed – SLOW DOWN!
  • Stay alert – watch your surroundings.
  • Maintain control – don't panic.

What probably play the most crucial role in safe winter driving? ›

1. Slow Down - Probably the most important wintertime adjustment we should make is to drive more slowly. Whether we're cornering, stopping, accelerating or driving on a straightaway, slowing down is the key.

What makes a car drive better in snow? ›

The best cars for snow and ice driving have high ground clearance, advanced safety technology, and all-wheel drive. These features help keep your tires firmly on the ground where they belong. On the other hand, the worst cars for winter driving have lower ground clearance, rear wheel drive, and a lighter frame.

What speed should I drive in snow? ›

You should reduce your speed by 1/3 on wet roads and by 1/2 or more on snow packed roads (i.e., if you would normally be traveling at a speed of 60 mph on dry pavement, then on a wet road you should reduce your speed to 40 mph, and on a snow-packed road you should reduce your speed to 30 mph).

What you should keep in your car in the winter? ›

Blankets & Extra Cold-Weather Clothes

In an emergency, getting caught without warm clothes could make it more difficult to deal with the situation at hand. Keep a few blankets in your trunk, as well as any old sweatshirts, warm socks, boots, and thick pants that you don't mind keeping in your car for the season.

What is the most effective braking technique in snow? ›

  • Accelerate smoothly. Apply gentle pressure to the gas pedal, even if that means you take more time to reach your safe cruising speed. ...
  • Brake gradually. ...
  • Leave more space for braking. ...
  • Keep your foot on the brake if your anti-lock braking system (ABS) activates.
Apr 1, 2021

What are the 7 factors that a driver must consider when driving at night? ›

7 safety tips when driving at night
  • Reduce your speed. ...
  • Know what to do when approaching another vehicle at night. ...
  • Understand proper headlight safety. ...
  • Watch for pedestrians, bicycles, wildlife and other obstacles. ...
  • Take steps to increase visibility. ...
  • Know what to do if you have car trouble at night.

What should you do 10 when driving on a slippery surface such as snow or ice? ›

Slippery Roads

Drive more slowly than you would on a dry road. Adjust your speed for different conditions: Wet road: Reduce your speed by 5 to 10 mph. Packed snow: Reduce your speed by half.

How long can you go without starting your car in the winter? ›

Typically, your car can sit about four weeks to two months without driving before the battery dies. The reason your car can sit only for so long before it dies is the fact that your car battery is in use even when you're not behind the wheel.

Should I start my car every day in cold weather? ›

Don't, according to experts at AAA, a federation of motor clubs. They say it's not a good idea to warm your car up to keep it from freezing. Drivers should start their engine and allow it to idle only for the time it takes you to fasten your seat belt.

Can I leave groceries in car in winter? ›

Temperature spikes and drops can end up spoiling your food faster. Poor storage can lead to food poisoning, so always leave your food in your vehicle with an err of caution. One thing to keep in mind is that your vehicle and garage will likely up to 10° warmer than outside.

Is AWD or 4WD better in snow? ›

If you are on a back road without frequent plowing, then a 4WD system may be better able to handle the challenges of the terrain. If you are driving on the regular roads but want to handle the icy and snowy conditions of IL a bit better, then AWD is a great option.

Are SUVs better in snow? ›

SUV Strong Suits

They have a lower center of gravity which makes them good for extensive driving in deep snow. Most SUVs also come with 4WD capability (or as an option) which provides more traction and have larger tires for greater stability.

What are the 4 P's of winter safety? ›

What are the four Ps? People, pets, pipes, and plants. People: Make sure you dress very warmly in layers. Check on family members and neighbors who might be vulnerable to the cold temperatures — especially if they are older or disabled.

What are the 3 P's of winter driving? ›

The three P's of Safe Winter Driving: PREPARE for the trip; PROTECT yourself; and PREVENT crashes on the road. Maintain Your Car: Check battery, tire tread, and windshield wipers, keep your windows clear, put no-freeze fluid in the washer reservoir, and check your antifreeze.

What is the number one cause of winter accidents just drive? ›

Icy and Slick Roads

There is no doubt that the top cause of winter car accidents is ice and snow on the roadways. When the roads are icy and slick, the traction on your tires is less effective.

Is it better to drive in snow or after snow? ›

Like snow totals, wind predictions are included in weather reports on sites like noaa.gov. If a snow storm won't end until after the wind is expected to pick up, it may be best to drive while the snow is still falling.

Which of these is important to check before driving in the winter? ›

Before Heading for Snow Country: ​Make sure your brakes, windshield wipers,defroster, heater and exhaust system are in top condition. Check your antifreeze and be ready for colder temperatures.

What wheel drive is worse in snow? ›

Given the aforementioned, driving on snow and ice tends to be more difficult for vehicles equipped with rear-wheel drive. RWD cars usually carry less weight on their driving wheels than their FWD and AWD counterparts vehicles, which means they will have more trouble accelerating on ice.

What is the best way to stop with ABS brakes on snow or ice? ›

If you're wondering how to use ABS, the answer is simple. Your vehicle will activate it automatically, pulsating the brakes as soon as the system detects a wheel skidding. Just firmly press your foot on the brake and maintain steady pressure.

What is a safe driving distance in snow? ›

Look Far Ahead

Allow double the stopping distance when the road is wet, triple on snow, and even more on ice. Driving carefully and safely takes extra concentration.

How fast can you drive with snow socks? ›

When driving with snow socks, the maximum speed of the vehicle should be reduced. Driving with socks on your wheels usually reduces the maximum allowable speed to between 30 km/h (20mph) and 50 km/h (30 mph) depending on the snow sock brand, snow sock size, and vehicle type.

What is a winter survival kit? ›

In an emergency situation, in addition to a full tank of gas and fresh antifreeze, the National Safety Council recommends having these with you at all times: Blankets, mittens, socks, and hats. Ice scraper and snow brush. Flashlight, plus extra batteries (or a hand-crank flashlight) Jumper cables.

Does the trunk of a car stay cold in the winter? ›

Surprisingly the inside of a trunk is cooler than the inside of the car itself. This is because most the heating occurs from objects being heated by sunlight and those in turn heating the air. Since no sunlight gets into the trunk the temperatures are cooler.

What keeps car warm in winter? ›

Engine heaters come in a variety of forms – from oil heaters for the dipstick, heating pads, or magnetic heaters that stick on the oil pan, to coolant heaters that go into the flow of antifreeze on the engine, or battery heating pads to keep your battery warm.

How much weight should I put in the back of my car for winter? ›

How Much Weight?
Type of VehicleSuggested Added Weight
½-ton pickup240-300 lbs.
¾- to 1-ton pickup300-400 lbs.
Sedan/SUV/CUV100 lbs.

What is best for driving in snow? ›

When it comes to snow driving, 4WD and AWD are considered the best options, due to their ability to create more traction. AWD means that the car's transmission is sending power to all four drive wheels.

When driving in snow you should use what? ›

Use AWD or 4WD

If your car is equipped with all-wheel drive (AWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD), using these systems can help you navigate through wintry road conditions. AWD is for good driving in moderate snowy conditions, while 4WD is better for driving in extreme snow and ice.

What should you do 5 when driving on a slippery surface such as snow or ice? ›

Slippery Roads

Wet road: Reduce your speed by 5 to 10 mph. Packed snow: Reduce your speed by half. Ice: Reduce your speed to no more than 5 mph.

What's the best tip for driving in the snow quizlet? ›

19. What are tips for smooth winter driving? Look and listen for traffic reports, keep windows clear, respect lower speeds, keep a safe following distance, keep moving in snow, use a lower gear on slippery roads and avoid cruise control.

What type of snow is hardest to drive on? ›

Snow is more manageable than sleet or freezing rain. If it is going to snow, will it be a blizzard or a quick-hitting clipper? You're more likely to wreck in a short, fast moving storm or snow squall, and you're more likely to get stranded during a blizzard or lake effect snow.

What is better in snow AWD or FWD? ›

If you live in an area with heavy snowfall, the best option will be AWD or 4WD coupled with good winter tires. City/Suburban driving with moderate snow and ice – FWD or RWD with winter tires will suffice.

What is the number one cause of winter accidents? ›

Icy and Slick Roads

There is no doubt that the top cause of winter car accidents is ice and snow on the roadways.

What is not safe driving in snow? ›

5: Not Being Prepared. 4: Following Too Closely. 3: Slamming on the Brakes. 2: Not Looking Out for Ice. 1: Driving Too Fast.

What is not a good thing to do when driving on slippery roads? ›

DO NOT engage the brakes; they are useless because the vehicle has no traction during a skid. Steer the vehicle gently in the direction in which you want it to go; do not turn the wheel aggressively as you will likely completely lose control of the vehicle. Allow the front wheels to regain their grip.

What is the most important driving technique to avoid crashes when driving in icy or snowy conditions? ›

What is the most important driving technique to avoid crashes when driving in icy or snowy conditions? Add extra weight to the vehicle to improve traction.

What is the best method in increasing traction as per the driving on snow? ›

Add Weight to the Rear in Rear-Wheel Drive Vehicles

Putting weight in your car's trunk or truck's bed can help the back wheels get a better grip in the snow.


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