The winter season brings an atmosphere of snow, hot chocolate, and cozy firesides. However, winter also comes with challenges of its own, including driving conditions that can test your skills and patience. In addition to being concerned about your personal safety, it’s essential to protect your auto insurance policy from costly claims and rate increases due to accidents.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss safe driving habits you should practice during winter to help you confidently navigate the roads while keeping your insurance premiums in check.
Prepare Your Vehicle
Before you hit the winter roads, ensure your vehicle is ready for the challenges that lie ahead. This includes:
- Winter Tires: Equipping your car with winter tires is critical in Canada as they allow you to stop up to 40% sooner than all-season tires and provide better traction on snowy and icy roads (Insurance Bureau of Canada). All insurance companies in Ontario offer discounts of up to 5% on auto insurance if you use winter tires from November to March.
- Check Fluids: Ensure that your car’s fluids, such as oil, coolant, and wiper fluid, are at appropriate levels. Cold weather can cause these fluids to thicken or freeze.
- Battery Health: Cold temperatures can strain your car battery. Have it checked to ensure it’s in good condition to prevent breakdowns on the road.
Slow Down and Increase Following Distance
Winter driving conditions demand a slower pace. Reduce your speed and increase your following distance between vehicles to allow for extra stopping time. This can help prevent accidents and reduce the risk of filing a claim with your auto insurance.
Be Cautious in Inclement Weather
It’s always a good idea to check the weather conditions ahead of time when possible. Environment Canada puts out alerts if blizzards, heavy snow, freezing rain or drizzle, cold snaps, and strong winds are expected. When winter storms strike, it’s crucial to exercise caution. If conditions deteriorate, consider delaying your trip or finding an alternative route. If you must drive, remember these tips:
- Use Your Headlights: Visibility can be drastically reduced in winter weather, so always use your headlights to be seen by other drivers.
- Stay in the Cleared Path: Follow the tire tracks of the vehicle in front of you, as this area is likely to have better traction than untouched snow or ice.
Avoid Sudden Maneuvers
Sudden acceleration, braking, or sharp turns can lead to skids and accidents. Be gentle with your controls to maintain stability and control. If you find yourself in a skid, take your feet off the pedals, steer in the direction you want to go and avoid slamming on the brakes.
Keep an Emergency Kit
Prepare for the unexpected by keeping an emergency kit in your vehicle. This kit should include essentials like a flashlight, blankets, extra warm clothing, jumper cables, non-perishable food, water, and a first-aid kit. Having these items on hand can help you stay safe if you get stranded during a winter storm.
Defensive driving is crucial year-round, but it’s especially important in the winter. Anticipate the actions of other drivers and be prepared for sudden movements. Avoid distractions and stay focused on the road.
Know Your Auto Insurance Policy
Understanding your auto insurance policy is essential, especially during the winter season. Be aware of your coverage and any winter-specific provisions or discounts your insurance company may offer, including the winter tire discount previously mentioned. It’s also important to know how to file a claim if you’re involved in an accident. Our brokers can help guide you through the claims process or review your policy with you to ensure properly covered.
Safe driving habits during the winter season are not only essential for your safety and others on the road but also for the well-being of your auto insurance policy. By preparing your vehicle, driving cautiously, and understanding your policy, you can navigate the winter roads with confidence and minimize the risk of costly claims and rate increases. For more tips on how to protect yourself on the road, visit the Government of Canada’s winter driving page.
Stay safe, stay vigilant, and enjoy the winter season responsibly!