Winter Driving Tips

Winter Driving Tips

Winter driving can be a challenge, even for the most experienced motorists. Check weather forecasts and road reports before setting out. If possible, delay extended highway driving if there are weather warnings or reports of poor road conditions.

  • See and be seen. Clear all windows, mirrors, front and rear lights before driving. Don't forget the roof of your car. Turn on your headlights in poor visibility.
  • Take it slow and easy. Use controlled, steady pressure when accelerating. Don't attempt sharp turns or sudden lane changes.
  • Double the two second rule on slippery roads. Mark a spot on the road ahead. When the rear of the vehicle ahead passes the marker before you count one thousand and four, you are following too closely for winter road conditions.
  • Be familiar with your braking system. Remember, it takes almost twice as long for the average vehicle to stop in loose snow compared to dry road conditions.
  • Watch for black ice, especially when approaching shaded areas, bridges and overpasses.
  • Lengthen the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead. Stopping distance on an icy road is double that of stopping on a dry one. For example, from around 45 metres (140 ft) at the speed of 60 km/h, to 80 metres (over 260 ft) on an icy road surface.
  • Stay in the right-hand lane except when passing, and use turn signals when changing lanes.
  • Steer with smooth and precise movements. Changing lanes too quickly and jerky steering while braking or accelerating can cause skidding.
  • Be patient and pass other cars only when it is safe.
  • Keep a safe distance back from snow plows, and trucks applying salt, sand or anti-icing agents.
  • Never pass a snow plow due to the whiteout conditions and ridge of snow created by the plow.

Winter Drivers' Checklist

It's important to keep vehicles in top running condition during the winter. Don't wait until the last minute to get your car or truck ready for the winter.

Maintenance checkup

  • Ask for a checkup of your battery, belts, hoses, radiator, oil, lights, brakes, exhaust system, heater/defroster, wipers and ignition system.


  • Have your tires checked and replaced if necessary.
  • Consider using winter tires to provide better traction and handling through snow, slush and on ice.
  • Never mix different  types of tire treads, sizes and construction.
  • Throughout the winter, check your tire pressure on a frequent basis as cold weather can decrease tire pressure.

Windshield washer

  • Make frequent checks of windshield washer fluid levels in the reservoir and keep an extra jug in your vehicle. Fluid should be rated for -40 degrees C.


  • Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times.

Booster cables

  • The thicker the better. Look for four or six-gauge cables.

Winter tools

  • Ice scraper, snowbrush, and shovel, plus salt, sand or kitty litter to provide traction on ice.


  • Wear comfortable clothing that doesn't restrict movement at the wheel. Keep extra clothing in your car for warmth.

Cell phone

  • For Fire, Ambulance or Police emergencies within the City of Greater Sudbury, dial 9-1-1.
  • For motor vehicle accidents that do not involve injury, call the Greater Sudbury Police at 675-9171.
  • For highway emergencies outside the City of Greater Sudbury, dial *OPP to connect with the nearest Ontario Provincial Police communications centre.

Emergency Survival Kit

  • Carry an emergency survival kit in your vehicle. Having essential supplies can provide comfort and safety if you should become stranded.