Sleet, ice and snow can make the roadways hazardous in winter, potentially increasing your risk of being involved in an accident. Taking the right steps to prepare before the winter weather gets underway may help reduce your chances of having a mishap on the road.

Use this short checklist to ensure you’ve covered all the driving safety bases this winter.

Winterize your vehicle

Your vehicle should be fully outfitted for anything winter weather may throw your way. As you go down your list, here are some things to pay attention to:

  • Invest in winter tires if you haven’t already. If you have, check your tire pressure and the treads to make sure they’re in good shape.
  • Replace your battery if needed, and make sure your headlights, brake lights, turn signals and hazard lights are working properly.
  • Check your windshield wipers for damage or wear, and swap out your windshield wiper fluid for a winter mix with a de-icing agent.
  • Get an oil change and top off key fluids, such antifreeze and brake fluid.
  • Stow an emergency kit in the trunk that includes water, non-perishable foods, road flares, blankets, first aid supplies, a flashlight, a small shovel or ice scraper, jumper cables, a tow rope, and salt, sand or kitty litter (for gaining traction on slick roads).

Before you leave home

Whether you’re planning a short trip or a long one, keep these simple safety tips in mind:

  • Consider investing in a block heater. These small, portable heaters can warm up your engine block to help make your car easier to start in extremely low temperatures.
  • Check the weather reports for your route. Download a weather app or follow your local weather station on social media to stay updated when you’re travelling.
  • Review your auto insurance to see what coverage you have in the event of an accident. Keep a copy of your insurance card and vehicle registration in your car or wallet.
  • Fully charge your phone, and pack a car charger just in case.
  • Bring warm clothes – an extra jacket, or even a blanket, in case your car stalls or you get in an accident and have to get out of your car in cold weather.

Staying safe on the road

If you’re confident your vehicle’s ready for winter weather and you’ve double-checked your insurance, it’s time to get going. Just remember to practice these safe driving habits:

  • Give yourself plenty of time to travel, and don’t tailgate, especially in bad weather.
  • Defrost your windshield and mirrors regularly to keep your vision clear.
  • Drive with your headlights or running lamps on to make sure your car is visible in sleet, icy rain and snow.
  • Be alert to other drivers, and practice defensive driving.
  • Skip cruise control in icy or snowy weather; this may make it harder to slow down if you get stuck in a skid or spin.
  • Stick to main roads, which are more likely to be plowed and salted.
  • Don’t speed and always wear your seat belt.

Finally, if you’re ever in doubt, consider postponing or delaying your trip. After all, it’s better to be safe (not to mention comfy and cozy at home) than sorry! Speak to an RBC Insurance Advisor about your car insurance needs or call to get a quote at 1-877-749-7224.

 

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.