Top Tips for Safe Winter Driving
February 01, 2023 By Genevieve Peeke

Last Updated Friday, January 13, 2023 10:36PM UTC

Have you ever heard a Canadian say: “I love driving in the winter”? We sure haven’t! Winter conditions can make your commute take double the time and cause your drive to see family during the holidays even more of an adventure. With a few smart tips however, you can make your time on the road just a little bit easier and safer at this time of year.

Have an emergency kit ready

St. John Ambulance (SJA) sells a first aid kit designed specifically for vehicles. It’s small enough to fit under a car seat and comes fully stocked with what you may need in case of an emergency. The included Mylar survival blanket can help you stay warm if you slide off the road or run out of gas. The “Call Police” banner will let people passing by know that you need help. The sterile gloves and face shield can aid when helping someone in need. The bandages can stop bleeding while help is on the way. Our kits can be purchased here on our website (and are 10% off during the month of December).

You should always keep extra warm blankets, mittens, scarves, and hats in your vehicle for the whole family. If your vehicle breaks down, you’ll be able to keep all your passengers warm until help arrives.

Keep an eye on conditions

If you don’t need to drive somewhere, don’t! Watch the news and always keep up-to-date on changing conditions. Make informed decisions based on the weather.

Keep your gas tank full

You never know when you might need to take a detour so it’s important to keep your gas tank as full as possible at all times. If you have an electric vehicle, make sure it stays fully charged.

Be ready with winter tires

Prepare your vehicle for the cold weather by getting winter tires and regular maintenance done.

Take your time

Make sure you leave early and give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination during the winter season. Roads are more slippery, and you can ensure safety by driving slower. If a certain road is particularly bad, consider taking a detour.

Ensure a clear view

Before getting into your car, remove any snow, frost, or ice that might impede your view while driving. Debris could also put other vehicles in danger if snow or ice flies off your car and into their field of vision. If you have trouble seeing out of your vehicle, it’s best to stop for a rest at a safe area until conditions improve.

Say no to distracted or impaired driving

You should never drive distracted or while under the influence. Call a taxi or ride share company for a lift if you are impaired due to alcohol, drugs, or fatigue. In just a split second, your car can skid on a patch of ice and cause an accident. It’s important to be alert at all times when driving.

Know the symptoms of hypothermia

If you get into trouble while driving and staying warm is an issue, it’s important to know the signs of hypothermia to look out for:
 

  • Shivering
  • Drowsiness
  • Weak pulse
  • Slurred speech or mumbling
  • Confusion, clumsiness, or memory loss
  • Feeling tired or exhausted
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Bright red and cold skin (for infants)


If you or another person is showing the symptoms listed above, you should call 911 immediately and stay where you are. Remove any wet clothes and keep them warm until someone arrives.

See someone in distress? Call 911 before doing anything else. You may then proceed with trying to help them.

Taking an emergency or standard first aid course will equip you with the tools to help yourself or assist another person in need. SJA offers these courses all year round in both in-person and blended (online & in-person) formats. Taking a course could help you save a life.

SJA hopes you have a safe and cozy winter season!