Canada’s unpredictable and notorious weather remains a mystery until you finally set foot here. Dreary winters, being a new driver, and lack of preparation are all valid reasons to become worried at the idea of driving in winter. Don’t get too worried, because getting yourself winter-ready for the road is a feasible task. Just be sure to brush up on key winter driving pointers, car maintenance, and the essential emergency kit.

Winter-ready your car

This would be a good time to invest in winter tires. They offer better grip on slippery roads so you’ll feel safer and more in control when winter breaks loose. Keep your gas tank full to increase the vehicle’s weight and decrease the chance of skidding and the chance of your fuel tank freezing. Also, don’t forget to do maintenance checks on the engine, battery, etc. before the season begins.

Emergency kit - your car’s new winter friend

There’s more to emergency car kits than a first aid set. Keep these items in your car at all times during the winter months. An emergency kit can be bought in-store or you can make one on your own. An exhaustive emergency kit could include:

  • First aid materials
  • Salt, or kitty litter
  • Booster cables
  • Windshield wiper fluid, fuel line antifreeze
  • Traction mats, shovel and ice scraper
  • Road flares, reflective vest
  • Flashlight, survival candle
  • Food pack of non perishable items, water, utensils like can opener etc.
  • Warm clothes, blankets
  • Winter driving gloves
  • Cell phone charger
  • Roadmaps
  • Whistle
  • Fire extinguisher

Driving pointers

Slush, snow, frost, blizzards, freezing rain, black ice, cold snap. Don’t feel intimidated by Canada’s colourful winter vocabulary. Instead, learn to drive with utmost caution.

  • Avoid the temptation to speed, or brake too swiftly. Brake slowly when making turns.
  • Always maintain a safe distance from the car in front of you in case roads are too slippery and either vehicle loses control. In case of skidding, you should know how your vehicle responds based on whether it is a front-wheel, rear-wheel or four-wheel drive.
  • Don’t panic if you get stuck on the side of the road during a storm. Stay warm. Make use of your emergency kit and keep your engine off as much as possible. Keep an eye out for emergency responders and other passing vehicles.
  • Ensure that your vehicle’s windows, roof, lights, and mirrors are free from snow and frost before driving. Wait for foggy windows to clear up.
  • Avoid using cruise-control or overdrive when roads are slippery.

Weather-watch like a hawk

Some people can’t begin the day without breakfast. A Canadian doesn’t head out before checking the weather. With the full day’s forecast ahead of you it becomes easier to plan and avoid any bad weather driving. You’ll feel more confident on the road with these pointers under your belt. Remember to prepare for the worst, and with time, you will learn to maneuver winter driving safely.

Check out the Newcomer Program booklet.