Winter Driving Safety: 5 Best Practices

Driving In A Halifax Winter Wonderland

December 12, 2016 – As we start seeing our first major snowfall, and as other counties in Nova Scotia have seen their first bit of snow for the season in the past weeks, it's important that drivers get their winter tires put on their vehicle as soon as possible. While there are no guarantees when driving in any type of weather, here are 5 best practices for safer driving during the winter:

1. You need all four appropriate winter tires.

Not only is it important to have wheels and tires that are the proper type, size, speed rating and load index for your vehicle, it's important to have all four tires that are designated "snow tires."

If you've already missed your window before today's snowfall, and while a lot of local shops may be busy this time of year, there are both that take appointments and ones that serve on a first-come, first-served basis too.

2. Winter tires are better than all seasons.

There is a debated fact and popular myth that all season or "mud and snow" tires are just as effective as their snow tire counterparts, but this just isn't true and is a very dangerous misconception. Winter tires are far superior at lower temperatures, and are designed to get maximum traction in weather that all seasons just can't get.

Here's what Bridgestone, a North-American tire manufacturer, has to say on the difference between the two

3. Winter tires aren't the only thing you need to stay safe.

While there are plenty of options you can use (e.g. studded tires), tires are only the physical aspect of helping you drive more safely in winter weather. A large, often overlooked aspect of safe winter driving is being mentally prepared for changing weather conditions, reduced visibility, and longer stopping distances. The best rule of thumb: reduce your speed and give yourself plenty of time for both stopping and accelerating.

While it's true that winter tires do reduce collisions, the fact that the majority of vehicles involved in accidents during the winter have winter tires because drivers believe that's enough to keep them safe.

4. Snow isn't your only enemy.

Just because it hasn't snowed the night before doesn't mean you aren't at risk of driving in adverse conditions. Winter also brings freezing temperatures that produce ice which increase the chance of sliding, as well as reduce the ability to accelerate and move out of the way of oncoming traffic. Sometimes it's not only stopping for other vehicles or stop-lines in time, it's also the inability to get out of the way of those who can't that'll result in an accident.

5. Prepare your car, just in case.

No one wants to have an auto accident or go off the road, but the truth is it can happen to anyone. It's important to have a 'roadside safety kit' in your car anytime you drive any distance so that you'll be prepared to be stranded for any length of time, or to help others in the event of an injury or getting a tow, etc.

How do you drive safe in winter weather?

Let us know what other techniques you use to stay safe when readjusting to poor weather conditions for the first time each year in the comments. Sign up for our newsletter for more safety tips and content.

Disclaimer: We don't endorse one type of tire make or model over another, and the linked resources or any mentioned manufacturer are for informational purposes only.