Drive Safe This Winter

Tips to Stay Safe

Winter driving can be dangerous. A clear and sunny winter day can quickly turn to snowy, blowy and icy conditions on the road. And even on sunny days black ice can lurk on the roadway.

Our insurance team wants to help keep you and others safe. Here are some tips to travel safely on the roads this winter.

Vehichle Tips

  1. Have a winter “survival kit” in your car. The Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety suggests having the following items in your vehicle
    • Snow shovel
    • snow brush
    • Ice scraper
    • Booster cables
    • Warning devices such as flares or emergency lights
    • Fuel line de-icer (methanol, also called methyl alcohol or methy hydrate)
    • Extra windshield wiper fluid appropriate for sub-freezing temperatures
    • Roll of paper towels
    • Flashlight and a portable flashing light (and extra batteries)
    • Blanket
    • Extra clothing, including a hat and wind-proof pants, and warm footwear
    • First aid kit
    • snack bars or other “emergency” food and water
    • Matches and emergency candles – only use with a window opened to prevent build-up of carbon monoxide
    • Road maps
    • “Call Police” or other help signs or brightly coloured banners
    • Properly fitting tire chains
    • Bag of sand or salt (or kitty litter)
    • Tow rope
    • Traction mats
  2. Check weather conditions often. Be aware of blizzards, heavy snow, freezing rain or drizzle, cold winds, and black ice. Check on your phone or radio for weather updates.
  3. Make sure your vehicle is tuned up. Prepare for winter by getting a complete checkup. Have your mechanic look at your battery, belts, hoses, radiator, coolant/antifreeze, oil, lights, brakes, exhaust system, heater/defroster, wipers, ignition system and tires. Have winter tires installed. For more details on the right tires for winter read the winter tire blog on our website. (You can also save money on your insurance if you have winter tires. Let us know if you install winter tires and our insurance brokers will help you to get these savings.)
  4. Check the tires and tire pressure at least once a month when the tires are cold.
  5. Make sure wipers are in good condition and have lots of windshield cleaning fluid. Make sure the fluid is rated for -40C.

On The Road Tips

If you must drive in poor winter weather, be careful, take your time and plan ahead.

  1. Make sure you have enough fuel in the tank before you head out. Try to keep the tank full.
  2. Have a charged cell phone with you
  3. Make sure you are alert and well rested when you are driving
  4. check that your mirrors, windshield and all windows are cleared of snow and frost before you begin your travels. Clean off the entire car to ensure your car is visible by other drivers.
  5. Wear your seatbelt and be sure all passengers are belted in properly. Children need to be in seats that are appropriate for them.
  6. If you need to get off the road, try to stop at a rest area or exit to a safe area. If the roadside is your only option, pull off as far as you can. Other drivers frequently strike vehicles parked on the side of the road. Turn on your emergency flashers to alert other drivers
  7. let another person know when you are travelling, where you are going and when you expect to get there.
  8. avoid passing other vehicles, if possible, when weather and road conditions are poor.
  9. If you are stuck on the road in a storm of in a snow drift, try not to panic. Use your cellphone to call for help. Avoid overexerting yourself and over exposing yourself to harsh weather. Shovelling in cold temperatures can be deadly. Stay in your car. Run your motor sparingly. Beware of exhaust fumes and the possibility of carbon monoxide. Ensure the tailpipe is not blocked by snow. Let some air in the car to keep air fresh and clean. Use a candle for heat, instead of the car heater, if possible. Se out a warning light or flares. Exercise your limbs and don’t fall asleep. Keep watch for those coming to help you. Wear a hat to keep you warmer. We lose up to 60% of our body heat through our head.

Tips to Avoid Collisons

The following are some tips provided by Transport Canada.

  1. THe danger of skidding is greatest when you are taken by surprise. Since not all vehicles respond the same way to ice, slippery roads, learn how to handle your vehicle in all types of weather. Read the owner’s manual to learn about your vehicle’s braking system and tire traction. You may also consider taking a winter driving course.
  2. In winter weather, avoid using cruise control.
  3. Having the latest safety features on new vehicles and/or knowing how to handle your vehicle are good ways to keep control.
    • New Safety Features

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) helps drivers avoid crashes. ESC sensors compare the direction of the steering wheel to the direction the vehicle is going. When they are not the same, and the vehicle begins to skid, ESC applies the brakes to one or more wheels, or reduces engine power, or both, to help keep the vehicle under control.

ESC is ‘On’ when you start your engine. If your vehicle has an ESC ‘Off’ switch, turn off ESC when you are stuck in deep snow. A dashboard light will remind you to turn it back on.

The only way to get ESC is to buy a new or used vehicle that is already equipped with it. If you are thinking about buying a new vehicle, ask your dealer to show you models with ESC. To learn more, visit

A good way to avoid skidding is to drive slowly. Give yourself extra time to drive to your destination and be very careful when you brake, change lanes, make turns and take curves.

For more tips on avoiding skids and braking go to

Take care on the roads this winter. Be safe, everyone.

This blog is provided for information only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Please call our Morison Insurance brokers at 1-800-463-8074 for more information.

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