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Tips for Driving in Canada During Winter

winter driving tips

Canada offers great destinations and a wide variety of amazing winter activities that you can enjoy. From ice skating on the Rideau Canal, spending the afternoon at a hockey game, dog sledding in the Rockies, skiing at Whistler Blackcomb, seeing the Northern Lights and admiring the frozen Niagara Falls, there are plenty of winter delights to experience. If you are planning a winter trip to Canada, VroomVroomVroom has compiled a list of things for you to keep in mind before you leave on your adventure.

Get your vehicle ready

woman scraping ice from windshield

Make sure that your rental vehicle is prepared for winter driving. Always plan ahead. Check for weather updates and road warnings before you go. Make sure that your vehicle's windows, headlights, signals, brake lights and hood are clear and free of snow or frost.

Winter tires are recommended because they usually offer greater traction under snowy or icy conditions. Don't forget to pack emergency road kit items such as a snow brush, tow chain, scraper, shovel, flashlight, emergency snacks, and a first aid kit.

Drive smoothly and slowly

Wear your seat belt. Don't make any unexpected turns or stops when driving. Doing so can cause your vehicle to lose control and skid. When your vehicle skids,  ease your foot off the accelerator to slow down and regain control of your vehicle.

Keep in mind that even the most skilled drivers, no matter how careful they are, can also lose their control and be involved in a skid. Be prepared and drive slowly especially on snow and ice-covered roads. Avoid rushing. Driving too fast is the main cause of winter collisions.

Pay attention on the road

snowfall country road with warning sign

Leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles, so you have enough time and space to stop. Your vehicle's headlights must be turned on, even in the daytime, when roads are wet and covered in snow. Avoid using the cruise control and take note that not all ice is visible.

You should be careful especially on highway overpasses as they freeze rapidly and remain frozen longer than the rest of the highway. Keep an eye and be cautious of black ice. Sometimes we have the impression that the road surface is dry when it may literally be covered with a slick and subtle layer of ice.

Stay calm

Pre-program your cellphone with some important emergency contact numbers. Car rental companies can usually provide you with this information. It is illegal in Canada to talk on the phone while driving, so make sure to pull off the road and stop your vehicle if you need to use your phone.

In case you get stuck in deep snow, don't panic. Keep calm and stay inside your vehicle. Use your hazard lights to attract attention, and if you will need to get out of the vehicle, ensure to use the door the farthest from passing traffic.

Review the terms in your rental agreement

Confirm with your rental company if your vehicle is allowed to be taken into the snow. Winter tires are required if you tend to drive on  the Icefields Parkway and on the Sea-to-Sky Highway between Vancouver to Whistler from October to March. Note that you may be required to purchase additional Snow Cover, and that ski equipped vehicles may only be available at select locations. Chains are not available in most car rental companies in Canada.

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