Safety driving tips to prepare for winter

CAA recorded over 100,000 roadside rescues in 2021, mostly during snowy season




SaltWire Network


As winter draws near, drivers in Atlantic Canada are reminded to prepare their vehicles, and themselves, for snowy conditions. SaltWire Network spoke with Steven Olmstead, former director of social responsibility and advocacy for The Canadian Automobile Association and now the director, advocacy and industry relations for the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies, about safe winter driving habits and practices. In 2021 alone, Olmstead said CAA had over 100,000 roadside rescues, a large part of which were during the winter. Olmstead said drivers should ensure they are ready to deal with the snow well before it falls. “There are two things you’ve got to do," he said. "Prepare the vehicle and prepare yourself.” Some tips for vehicle preparation: • Get winter tires installed sooner rather than later. Drivers should switch from their summer season tires once the weather is consistently under 7 degrees Celsius. If you are buying new tires for the season, buy winter tires, as the rubber is softer and allows better traction and braking in snow. • Look over your vehicle . While there is never a bad time to inspect your vehicle, getting a full mechanical inspection done before winter hits will show what the vehicle needs to be fully prepared. At the very least, top up all fluids and test your battery’s health. • Change your wipers. Wipers take a beating throughout most of the year, but winter can be especially taxing on them. Changing your wipers when you change your tires for the season is a good habit to get into. • Stock up for an emergency. It’s a good idea to create an emergency car kit for your vehicle to keep in the trunk in case of a breakdown, an accident, or if you get stuck and need to wait for help. Keeping a first aid kit, non-perishable snacks, water, a small shovel, and extra gloves and a hat or even a blanket will keep drivers prepared for most situations. • Stay gassed up. Keeping a full or at least a half tank of fuel in your vehicle will allow you to periodically start the vehicle to keep warm if you ever get stuck in an emergency on or off the road. Olmstead said outside of preparing our vehicles, drivers should prepare themselves by getting into the winter driving mindset and focusing on what is important for safety. Some tips for driver preparation: • Check the forecast. Before leaving home, check the conditions of where you are and where you’re heading. If you think you might not make it due to the conditions, don’t leave. • Leave early. Give yourself plenty of time to safely arrive at your destination so you don’t rush. • Stay calm. If you end up in an emergency situation where you are stuck or need help, don’t panic. Avoid doing any heavy lifting or trying to push your car yourself. If you are stuck, make sure your car’s tailpipe is clear and keep a window cracked open for fresh air while you wait. More information and tips on winter driving can be found at