Winter Driving Tips Every Driver Should Know

Black car on a winter road with winter tires

It pays to be a responsible driver. Many insurance companies reward drivers with a good driving record. Speak to one of our specialists today to find out if your safe driving record could save you money on your car insurance. ISL may be able to save you up to 25% on your insurance.

Let’s face it. Living in the Peterborough Area, every driver will face some tricky winter driving conditions sooner or later. And while the best advice may be to stay put until the weather clears, often we are faced with having to drive in snowy or icy conditions. At ISL Insurance, your safety is important and therefore, we wanted to share a few winter driving tips that can help make your next outing a safe one. 

Be Prepared

While we’ve all heard the importance of carrying an emergency kit in our trunk. A kit as well as a shovel and blanket, ensures your vehicle is ready for winter driving can take a few minutes but the effort is well worth it. Be sure to fill up your windshield washer fluid and check your tire pressure. Tire pressure fluctuates with temperature and it’s vital as the temperature drops to ensure you maintain appropriate inflation.

Taking the time to properly clear snow off your windshield is not only key for vision but also helps your wipers and defroster to work effectively. Using your wipers to clear windshields of snow before heading out is a bad idea and can lead to problems as it leaves ridges of snow along the outer edge of the windshield. These ridges then freeze and prevent proper clearing of snow while driving. Your defroster may not be able to clear these thick ridges, which only adds to the problem. Clear your windshield properly before leaving your home – it’s the law!

Speed Control

It’s so important to adjust your speed to the road conditions present, and match this with your vehicle’s ability to respond. In our last post, we discussed how modern snow tire technology can dramatically improve steering control and braking performance on icy roads.Good winter tires on snowy road

However, it’s equally important to test road conditions early in your drive and adjust accordingly. Many accidents are caused by drivers not adjusting speeds to the road condition and coming into turns and intersections “hot”. Ideally, as soon as you’ve left your driveway, test your steering and braking gently to understand the road conditions and how your vehicle is responding. You can then adjust driving speeds to match.

Avoid Sudden Stops and Movements of the Steering Wheel

By gently applying the brakes, or “pumping” the brake pedal, you can avoid locking up your tires in a skid. While most modern vehicles now have ABS braking systems that are designed to do just this – prevent lockups – it’s a concept worth keeping in mind.

Gentle braking pressure to ensure your wheels continue rolling. The concept is often referred to as “rolling traction” and it’s a key component to controlling your vehicle on snowy and icy roads. If the tires can remain in motion, they can track and provide control, enabling you to steer away from danger. Speed plays a critical role, so once again, test the conditions and slow down in bad weather.

Measure and Monitor the Gap

We’ve all been guilty of following the vehicle ahead too closely – it’s almost unavoidable when we’re in busy Lansdowne traffic. However, road conditions should dictate the gap we set with the vehicle ahead. In normal dry weather driving conditions, a 3-4 second gap is considered safe while in snowy weather, this should be adjusted to 8-10 seconds. It’s critical to make these adjustments immediately upon entering busy roads – simply pick a fixed point of reference on the side of the road and begin counting off seconds as the vehicle ahead of you passes the marker, stopping the count as you pass the same marker.

Skid Control

Every driver in Peterborough and the Kawartha’s should understand skid control theory. The basic concept of skid control goes against your natural reaction as you should actually ‘turn into’ the direction of the skid! While it may sound a little complicated, it’s actually easy and effective.

To gain control of a skidding car, first, look to the direction you wish the vehicle to go. Next, leave the gas and brake pedals alone while you gently steer in the opposite direction of where you want to go. You actually turn the steering wheel in the direction the back of your vehicle is sliding towards. Once you’ve gained control, you can then gently turn the wheel back in the direction you need to go – the back end of your car should now be aligned once again with your front wheels and therefore, track in the proper direction.

Driving in Peterborough and the Kawartha’s can be challenging during winter storms and the best advice is always to not drive unless absolutely necessary. But should you find yourself on slippery roads, following these tips will make driving easier and safer.

At ISL Insurance, we’ve been insuring drivers in Peterborough and area for over 70 years. We shop the insurance market on your behalf to ensure our clients get the best value for their insurance dollar. We’re located in downtown Peterborough at 441 Water St., Call us at 1.888.368.9298.