6 Necessary Reminders Before a Winter Road Trip

Summer isn’t the only prime time for an adventure on the road. Whether you’ve never missed a ski season at your favourite resort, or you’re looking to escape the city’s grey slush for the first time, this winter road trip guide is just the thing for you. 

1. Know thy car 

You should be thinking of your car as your partner this winter. Your opponent? The icy winter roads. Thus, it’s important to know what features your car has, and what it needs to keep it going.

  • 2WD vs. 4WD – Cars with two-wheel drive will fare well in in light snow, but if you’re going to be taking on heavier snow or off-road situations, it’s probably best to take a car with four-wheel drive. 
  • ABS Brakes – Most cars have an anti-lock braking system that help drivers steer when they brake in an emergency situation, such as skidding. ABS rapidly applies and releases the brakes so your wheels don’t lock when you slam on them. When activated, you will feel or hear the ABS vibrating – continue to pressing firmly on the brake and steer. 
  • Winter Tires – Winter tires not only have a deeper tread that will give you the best grip on snow and ice, but unlike all-season tires, they’re made from a special rubber that won’t freeze up and lose grip in temperatures lower than 7°c. 
  • Prep your car – Before heading out, make sure your gas tank and all your fluids are topped off, and that there aren’t any warning lights on the dashboard. Double check to make sure your windshield wipers are holding up well too. 

2. Check the weather (and check it twice)

Falling snow combined with strong winds can seriously undermine your visibility on the road. It’s better to play it safe than sorry and just reschedule your grand plans for the next weekend if the worst is expected. 

When you’re on the road, keep the radio on a local station so that you’re informed of any severe weather warning. 

3. Shed a layer

You heard that one right – even though it may be freezing outside, you should be nice and toasty inside your vehicle, so take off your gloves and your bulky winter parka. Both of these things can restrict your arm movement and ability to steer. 

If you’ve got a little one in a back, this is especially important. Buckling in a child or baby into their car seat with their puffy winter coat on can leave the harness too loose to work properly in the event of an accident. 

4. Pace yourself 

While 10 hours on the road might be an easy feat for you in the summertime, remember that winter conditions are different and require more attention and energy to navigate safely. In addition, there are fewer hours of daylight in the wintertime. 

It’s best to just have low expectations for distance you cover in a day and take it easy! 

5. Take the road more travelled  

When you’re planning your route, try sticking to highways and streets that are likely to have at least a couple of other cars on the road as the same time as you. 

It might be tempting to take a backroad instead of the congested highway, but in the wintertime, being stuck in traffic on the highway for an extra couple minutes is much better than being stuck in a snowbank in the middle of nowhere with no cell reception. 

6. Be prepared

The scout motto is ever as important when it comes to winter drives. Remember that in Canada and much of the U.S., exposure to winter elements can very much be deadly.

As a rule of thumb, keep an emergency kit in your trunk that has all the gear you need to get through at least a night and two days in the cold. Also stock up on things that your car might run out of – things like oil, brake fluid, anti-freeze, and windshield fluid. 

For a comprehensive list of must-haves you need for your emergency kit, take a look at our Winter Driving Guide.

Winter roads can be a treacherous to navigate, but that doesn’t mean having to say goodbye to road trips and fun for the season. By staying prepared and alert, you can raise your chances of staying safe exponentially. If you have been involved in an accident however, our team at Harris Law can help you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to learn how we can help.