Winter Driving Tips for Motorists

November 7 2019

Alberta winters can be beautiful, but they can also be dangerous. Snow piles up on the road; blizzards impair drivers’ vision, and ice makes it easier for cars to slip.

Fortunately, car accident fatalities usually decrease during the winter. More people stay inside instead of risking bad weather, and most people drive slowly in bad weather.  However, accidents tend to increase on the first day or two after a snowstorm as drivers adjust to the new weather conditions. 

Not all accidents can be avoided, especially when you’re the victim of a negligent driver. But there are steps you can take to keep yourself and others on the road safe this winter.

Motorist Winter Safety

The most important thing you can do to stay safe this winter is slow down. While speeding is always dangerous, it is especially so during winter driving conditions. Your visibility will be lower and snow and ice increase the time it takes for you to reach a complete stop. Braking too quickly can also cause you to skid. Drive under the speed limit in particularly dangerous conditions.

You should also increase the distance between yourself and other cars to compensate for the increased braking time.

Before you hit the road, check that your vehicle is completely clear from snow and ice. Scrape ice off the windows and brush snow off the top and hood. Snow left atop the car can blow off while driving, obscuring your visibility and creating hazards for other drivers.

You should also invest in a good pair of winter tires before the first snowfall. These tires will give you better traction and cut down on your chances of skidding. Tire pressure decreases more rapidly in cold weather than in hot, so check your tire’s air pressure at least once a month.

Transportation Alberta has put together a useful list of Alberta winter driving tips HERE.

As the driver of a vehicle, you also have a particular responsibility to keep pedestrians and motorcyclists safe during the winter. Be aware and respectful of pedestrians and motorists by following these tips:

How to Keep Pedestrians Safe

Cars should begin to slow down well before reaching traffic lights, stop signs or crosswalks. Drivers should also check for pedestrians before pulling through an intersection to make a turn. Make a conscious effort to be aware of pedestrians before proceeding through an intersection.

How to Keep Motorcyclists Safe

Always be aware of the motorcyclists around you. Give them a wide cushion in which to manoeuvre. Never tailgate them or make them feel crowded. Always signal your lane changes well in advance.

Enjoy a Safe Winter

Alberta BC Safety offers an online course that examines the risks associated with winter driving, including a review of the conditions that affect winter driving, traction and control, and the 3 elements of control. This short, 30 minute course, also provides solutions on how you can reduce risk while driving in the winter. Being prepared and knowledgeable in how to curb reckless winter driving can be the difference in avoiding an accident. You can also find a preview of their Winter Driving fundamentals course here.  

Before you venture out in the winter, you can also visit 511 Alberta, the government-run account that shares highway conditions and safety information on Twitter. Being prepared is the first step in driving safely. 

By following these tips, you can help you avoid the worst winter driving pitfalls. However, if you are injured in a winter driving accident, Contact Us for a free consultation on your options and how we can help you through your recovery process.