Winter Driving in Ontario – The Top 10 Things You Need to Remember

Everyone all over the world knows just how rough Canadian winters can be.

The cold weather is the least of the problems during this time of year. There is a lot of snow (many parts of the country have noted record snowfall amounts this year), and with that also comes ice, and slippery roads. Winter driving is actually quite a bit different than driving during other seasons, and there are many more precautions that you have to take.

Here are the top 10 things you need to remember for winter driving in Ontario:

Winter Driving in Ontario: Be Prepared

  1. 1

    Get the right tires

    If you keep your summer tires on your car in the winter (which is illegal anyway), you are taking a pretty big chance. You need to have all-season or winter tires, and you may even want to have studded tires. Winter tires have an entirely different tread pattern, which give you better traction on snowy or icy roads.

  2. 2

    Drive slower

    When the weather conditions are bad and the roads are icy, it is just common sense to cut back on the speed. You cannot stop as quickly on icy roads, and if you are driving fast and try to stop suddenly, it could end up in disaster. Remember not to hit the brakes hard when you are driving on icy roads, but instead tap them lightly.

  3. 3

    Keep your lights on

    It is much more difficult to see when it is snowing out, and even in daylight hours, it is a good idea to make sure that your headlights, not just your daytime runners, are on. This is going to make it much easier for other drivers to see you, and for you to see them.

  4. 4

    Keep warm

    You never know when you are going to be faced with an emergency that will leave you stranded on the side of a quiet road on a cold night, especially in the rural parts of Ontario. Always keep blankets or sleeping bags in the car so you can stay warm until help arrives. If you are taking an extended trip, you may also want to make sure that you have some heavier clothes, including a nice warm coat and long underwear. It may sound funny, but if you are stranded in the cold, you will appreciate them being there.

  5. 5

    Always carry a cell phone

    Again, accidents are always possible, as well as breakdowns, and you could find yourself in a situation where you need help. If you have a cell phone with you, you can call someone in case of a road emergency. Even if you do not have an active cell phone plan, you can still dial 911 for help. You can also get pay-as-you-go phone cards that for less than $20 that will give you plenty of talk time to call someone to help you.

  6. 6

    Have plenty of salt or sand

    When there is a lot of snow and ice, it is very easy to end up getting your car stuck somewhere. Make sure that you have road salt or sand in the trunk of your car or back of your truck. Sand will help to give you extra traction, and sand will help to melt the snow and ice around your tires. There is an added bonus to having these things in your vehicle, and that is that they will help to weigh your car down, which will help even more if you are stuck.

  7. 7

    Have a safety kit

    There are certain things that you should always have in your car, especially in the winter. If you are in an accident or broken down in the dark, road flares will alert other drivers to your presence. You should also have a flashlight, a sign that says “need help” or something similar, some tools for fixing flat tires and other problems, and don’t forget a bottle of lock de-icer. You may need it to get into the trunk to get the other things out. Another good thing to have is a first aid kit.

  8. 8

    Watch where you park

    You will usually be notified about snow removal on Ontario roads, and will be informed (often with signage and radio announcements) which side of the road you should be parking on. Usually snow removal is done late at night or early in the morning, on one side of the street. If you park on the street overnight, and you are on the wrong side, you are taking the chance of having your vehicle towed, and you will be required to pay all of the towing and impound fees.

  9. 9

    Follow plow trucks

    This may sound strange, but if you are out on the roads and there is a lot of snow, it is going to be difficult to drive, especially if the roads have not yet been plowed. Being behind a plow truck guarantees that you will be driving on freshly plowed roads. Make sure that you do not follow too closely. Following any other vehicle too closely is never a good idea, especially on icy or snowy roads.

  10. 10

    When in doubt, don’t go out

    If the weather is really bad, and you think that the roads may be treacherous, don’t bother leaving home unless you really have to. If you must go out, it may be a better idea to take advantage of public transportation, and leave your car parked for the day. It may take more time to get where you need to go, but you will get there safe and sound.

Winter driving doesn’t have to be a scary prospect, not of you are taking all of the proper precautions, and of course, always driving carefully, both defensively and offensively. The above tips will help to get you, and your vehicle, through the harsh Ontario winters in one piece. Being safe on Ontario roads in the winter time just requires a little bit of common sense, and a little bit of patience. Don’t be in a hurry, and make sure that your vehicle is in tip-top condition and ready for the winter.