Winter driving safety: Are you ready?

Tips to keep in mind before driving through the snow

Winter driving safety: Are you ready?
Driving in the winter, and in snow, can be a hazardous exercise.

Winter brings cold weather and snow. And while it brings a new look to the environment, it also brings a lot of hazards on the road. This makes it more challenging for drivers as they go their way.

Winter road safety is always important. And so the Canada Safety Council (CSC) is reminding drivers to adjust their driving habits for safety. Here are some of the group’s suggestions:

1. Before leaving, check the weather conditions. Consider cancelling or delaying trips if conditions are worsening.

“Knowing your current and forecasted weather conditions can make all the difference in preparing you for a safe journey vs. an unexpected one.” says Maureen Rogers, Managing Director, Pelmorex Weather Networks. “Checking the weather for where you are as well as where you are going will help you plan your trip accordingly.” 

2. If you feel it is safe to drive, clear your car of snow and ice before leaving. This is to protect not just you but other motorists.

3. Give yourself room to maneuver your vehicle. This is important especially as snowbanks may encroach on roadways. Stay patient!

4. Slow down and emphasize seeing and being seen in your priorities. Also, be prepared to stop if another car suddenly enters your field of vision.

Last month, Alberta started allowing snow plow operators on its highways to use flashing white strobe lights to increase their visibility, and installing new signage along highways to remind Albertans to drive to conditions and be cautious near roadside workers.


Meanwhile, the Construction Safety Association of Manitoba (CSAM) suggests that drivers seek professional help to ensure cars are winter-ready.

“Winter weather is hard on your vehicle. This year, winter has been fairly mild thus far, however it's possible that colder temperatures are on the way,” said CSAM. “It is important that you go to a licensed facility to conduct a vehicle winterization inspection in addition to regular maintenance. A check-up by a trained technician will help ensure no important items are missed.”

It said that drivers must ensure that the following are working at an optimal level:

  • Battery
  • Lights
  • Brakes
  • Exhaust system
  • Heating and cooling system
  • Windshield wipers

Winter tires

Both the CSC and CSAM also emphasized the importance of winter tires.

“Winter tires should be installed when the weather drops below 7 degrees Celsius, as that is when they’re at their most effective. Be sure that your winter tires come as a matching set and have the three-peak-mountain-and-snowflake icon, designating that the tires meet standards to be classified as winter tires, stamped into the rubber,” said CSC.

“Winter tires have been designed for snow. They're marked with a symbol on the side-wall: a peaked mountain with a snowflake. They meet high standards for winter traction performance and are different than ‘mud + snow’ (M+S) rated snow tires. In Manitoba, studded tires can be used between October 1st and April 30th,” said CSAM.

In January 2020, Safe Work Manitoba launched the Safe Driving at Work Plan to help employers make driving safer for their workers.