Ahh winter – not something we aren’t used to in Canada, but something that can be easy to forget! Because come on..who really wants to remember red noses and frozen eyelashes?! While winter can be a beautiful time of the year, it can also be a dangerous time to be on and around roads and highways. You can’t avoid driving in the winter, but you can be prepared for winter driving conditions with these helpful and potentially lifesaving tips. 

1. Avoid Cruise Control 

For some, driving with cruise control has become second nature. It prevents leg fatigue, keeps you from speeding and is great on long drives. But, you can easily lose control with cruise control in winter weather conditions. 

Winter driving with cruise control in the snow, ice or even rain is quite dangerous because if your car skids on the road, the cruise control will accelerate your car to maintain a constant speed. If this happens, you are likely to lose control over your vehicle leading to an unfortunate situation. 

It’s best to avoid using cruise control during the winter weather to prevent your car from skidding on the road. 

2. Top Up Your Gas Tank 

Ever heard your grandparents or parents advising you to keep your tank at least ½ half full for winter driving? Well, it turns out that they were right. 

But why? The answer is condensation.  Condensation occurs when cold water vapour comes into contact with a warmer surface. You can see this in action on your car windows on any frosty morning. 

This can also happen in your gas tank because the remaining space in an empty or less than half-filled gas tank is filled with air. This can result in drops of water forming on the inside walls of your gas tank, and eventually sliding down mixing with the gasoline As we all know, gasoline and water don’t mix well. It can lead to internal corrosion and an engine stall. 

Keeping your tank full will also help warm your car in case you get stranded by the side of the road. 

3. Pack an “Emergency Kit”

Aside from ensuring you always have extra wiper fluid and your snow brush in your car, having a survival or emergency kit in your car during the winter is a great way to ensure you can stay warm and safe until help arrives. Some things to keep in your survival or emergency kit are:

  • Extra layers (Hats, mitts, even a warm blanket)
  • Booster cables
  • A small shovel and/or salt
  • Non-perishable high-energy foods (protein bars, etc)
  • Flares

While your emergency kit doesn’t have to stay in your car all year, it’s a good idea to create a survival or emergency pack that contains key safety items for when you’re stuck roadside.

4. Never Slam on the Brakes 

There is nothing scarier than having your car skid on snow or ice and you’re left struggling to bring your car under control.  

The key to safe winter driving is learning how to use your brakes effectively. When approaching an intersection or a stop sign, try to take your foot off the gas ahead of time. 

The less you slam your brakes at the last moment, the lesser your chance will be of rear-ending a vehicle ahead of you or sliding on the snow-covered road. 

5. Do Not Tailgate 

This one may also seem like a no-brainer, but think of how easy it is to lose control of your footing in an icy parking lot – things happen quickly when ice and snow are involved!  Not only is it important that you slow down when the condition of the road is poor, but it’s also equally important to maintain a safe braking distance between you and other drivers.  Closely tailgating the car ahead of you is extremely dangerous, especially when in slippery conditions outside. 


6. Give Yourself Extra Travelling Time 

This one might be obvious when it comes to winter driving, but it’s quite important and easily overlooked. Check the weather and road conditions before you plan to go out – do not rely on the time stated on the GPS as you need to drive slower than usual to avoid any mishaps on the road.  

When you are heading out for a trip or planning to meet your family over for the holidays during winter, make sure that you plan ahead in time because it is better to arrive late than never at all! 

Cayuga Mutual wants everyone to be careful this winter and practice safe driving, especially in inclement weather. Use these tips to always be prepared for the weather and see yourself safely through to spring, or give us a call at 1-800-567-3381 to talk to an Agent!