Alberta Winter Driving Tips
Alberta Winter Driving Tips
Posted on June 8, 2023
Every Alberta driver knows just how difficult winter road conditions can get. Almost 30% of car accidents in Canada happen on snow covered or icy roads. A 2018 study found a 3.1 to 4.7 percent increase in the rise of vehicle accidents in December and January, as well as a 49 percent increase in insurance claims.
The simple truth is driving in Canada during the winter takes some skill. Luckily, there are steps every driver can take to ensure their commutes stay safe this winter season. Making small changes to your regular driving habits and arming yourself with the right tools on the road can lead to an accident-less and stress-free experience this winter.
Slow Down & Exercise Caution
It might seem like common sense, but slowing down all parts of your drive is essential during the winter months. This means more than just driving slowly. Acceleration and braking must also be slowed during the winter time. Trying to accelerate quickly on ice will cause your tires to skid. Meanwhile, slamming on your brakes on a patch of ice will cause you to slide out of control.
You also want to increase the distance in between you and the vehicle in front of you in the winter. Most experts recommend adding another six seconds of stopping time to your following distance. This will also keep you from having to pump the brakes quickly which is never smart on ice.
Another winter driving situation where caution prevails, is on a hill. Pressing hard on the gas pedal on a hill almost always leads to spinning wheels, especially if there is ice involved. Exercise a soft touch when it comes to accelerating down a hill and be sure to leave yourself lots of time between you and the bottom.
You knew we were going to suggest it. But if you drive in Alberta without winter tires, you are asking for trouble. Especially once the temperature drops below seven degrees Celsius. The rubber that winter tires are made out of become much softer when the temperature drops, allowing it to grip and hold the road better.
On your journey to preparedness, you can go much further than winter tires. Make a list of things you might need in an emergency situation and keep a box with those items in your trunk. Things like jumper cables, a flashlight, windshield wiper fluid, water, gloves, and a blanket might all come in handy if you get stuck on the side of the road.
Pro Tip: Always keep your fuel tank above half empty during the winter months. If you hit the ditch and need to keep the heat running, you want to know you have lots of time to spare before help arrives.
Leave Yourself Plenty of Time
For most of us, the casual “almost there” text actually gets sent before we have even left the house. But leaving things to the last minute can cause serious problems, especially during the colder months. We recommend leaving the house 15 minutes before you usually do. This gives you plenty of time to drive slowly and exercise caution on the roads.
Anything goes during an Alberta winter. Sometimes we find ourselves delayed because of an accident. Other times, a patch of highway is covered in black ice and we have to half the speed limit in order to get across. The more time you leave yourself, the clearer your head is and the more comfortable you feel taking your time.
Hitting the Ditch
Sometimes you can do everything right and still hit the ditch. If this happens to you this winter, the most important thing is try and mitigate the dangers and stay warm. If you have emergency lights or flares handy, be sure to use them. Making sure you are visible to other drivers is paramount.
Whatever you do, be sure to not leave your vehicle. You can lose sight of where you left it or in other cases, become too cold and have to turn back. Stay inside your vehicle where it is warm and you are protected from the elements.
Stay Safe This Winter
Get ahead this winter and be sure your vehicle is ready for the temperature drop. Book an appointment with our service team so we can winterize your vehicle. That means making sure your winter tires are on, fluids are filled up, battery is strong and your engine is in working condition for the coldest parts of the season!