Top 3 winter driving tips

Cars driving in a city on a snowy day in Canada.

Driving  by Elmuzzerino.  CC0

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Is it your first time to drive in the snow? Driving in winter can be dangerous if you are not prepared. Here are tips to stay safe in the winter months:


  1. Get your car ready
    • Start early. Get ready before the first snow fall. Avoid long lines for tires or maintenance check-ups in late November.
    • Clean your car. Vacuum the carpets, dust off the dashboard, and clean out your trunk. Make space for winter accessories or tools. Replace your floor mats.
    • Get your car waxed to protect the exterior.
    • Get a maintenance check. Check your car battery, brakes, windshield wipers, lights, and tires.
  2. Plan your driving
    • Make it a habit to check weather and road conditions before leaving the house. Listen to the radio or check online.
    • Leave your house earlier than in summer and fall. Remember, you have to drive slower.
    • Watch out for extreme weather warnings. Be prepared when an extreme weather warning is up. Have an emergency kit and check if your mobile phone is charged (and bring your car charger). Decide not to leave the house if you have no urgent business for the day.
    • Warm up your car before driving. Don’t do in a closed garage or any enclosed area. Warming up reduces moisture on the windows.
    • Be properly dressed for the weather. Wear shades or sunglasses to avoid the glare of sunlight.

Prepare a winter driving kit

Gather tools, spare clothes and food for any emergencies and keep them in your trunk.

Have a winter driving kit

  • Extra warm clothing (including hat and dry footwear)
  • Blanket
  • Paper towels
  • Flashlight
  • Snack bars, water
  • First aid kit
  • Road maps
  • Matches and emergency candles (don’t forget to open car windows if you need to light the candles)
  • Tire chains
  • Bag of sand, salt or kitty litter
  • Traction mats
  • Snow shovel
  • Snow brush
  • Ice scraper
  • Booster cables
  • Warning devices (e.g. flares, emergency lights, or brightly colored help signs)
  • Fuel line de-icer (methanol, also called methyl alcohol or methyl hydrate)
  • Extra windshield wiper fluid appropriate for sub-freezing temperatures

Learn about winter driving best practices

  1. Winter driving is all about being careful and prepared. Know the possible problems so that you can avoid or prepare for them.
  2. Observe safety rules.
    • Fasten your seatbelt.
    • Slow down (roads are extra slippery).
    • Stay alert (especially for black ice).
    • Know proper steering and braking procedures.

Watch this video for helpful tips on safe winter driving from the AAA:

Article updated December 21, 2023.
Adapted from: Driving Tips-Winter from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety and’s How to Winterize your car.

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