Ice, snow, slippery highways — driving in winter conditions can be both challenging and frustrating. Here are some helpful tips to keep you and your loved ones safer on the road.
It’s important to be prepared if you have to drive snowy, winter roads. Along with slowing down, it’s important to have good winter tires and check them regularly as low temperatures can reduce tire pressure. Pack a winter emergency kit in your vehicle in case you get stranded or stuck. Your kit should include:
- First aid kit
- Emergency food and water
- Spare warm clothing
- Flares or matches and lighter, candles
- Shovel and traction mat, sand or kitty litter (non-clumping)
- Battery jumper cables
If you’re feeling confident
If your vehicle is equipped for the weather and you’re feeling confident, remember to take extra precautions on the road.
Plan ahead and always check road and weather conditions on drivebc.ca before heading out.
Be sure to leave more following distance, slow down, and give yourself more time to get where you’re going. Speed limits are set for ideal conditions only.
Using winter tires
Although winter tires are not mandatory in B.C., keep in mind that the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure can designate them to be required on certain roads and highways. This typically happens during the fall and winter months in northern B.C. and the southern Interior.
If you’re driving on these roads without winter tires, police can ticket you and make you turn back.
ICBC recommends winter tires
For your safety and the safety of other drivers, ICBC recommends winter tires for driving in snow and ice, especially if you live in an area where you would normally expect a lot of snow. You’re less likely to slide on the road because all season tires can begin to lose their elasticity and grip on the road at temperatures below 7°C, according to Transport Canada.
Will driving without winter tires void my insurance?
No. Driving without winter tires will not void your insurance if you have a claim. It also won’t mean you’re automatically at-fault in a crash. However, if you get in a crash where winter tires could have helped, not having them may affect whether — or how much — you are at fault.
If you have more questions about winter tires and insurance, please contact us.
Driving in bad weather
Hydroplaning happens when the tires lose contact with the road surface and float on a film of water. If you find yourself hydroplaning, ease off the accelerator and keep steering in the direction you want to go. Avoid braking.
During the winter, temperatures can change quickly, which can cause unpredictable road conditions. Although the road may look the same, black ice can form unexpectedly and may not be visible.
Black ice is commonly found on roads with shaded areas, bridges, overpasses and intersections where car exhaust and packed snow freeze quickly.
If you drive over black ice and start to skid, ease off the accelerator, and look and steer smoothly in the direction you want to go. Don’t brake! this will make the situation worse. You may need to repeat this manoeuvre several times until you regain control.
Adjust for conditions
Potholes can be another hazard during cold and wet weather. For all types of winter hazards, remember two key tips: reduce your speed and increase your following distance. The more time you have to react to any hazard the better.
Read more in our Learn to drive smart guide, winter tires guide and tips on driving in poor conditions.