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Winter Driving Safety


Turn on your vehicle's full lighting system in poor visibility.

It takes longer to stop on a slippery road. It’s important to leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle ahead. A guide to safe spacing under normal driving conditions is the two-second rule.

Two-second ruleWinter Driving Safety
Pick a marker on the road ahead, such as a road sign or telephone pole. When the rear of the vehicle ahead passes the marker, count "one thousand and one, one thousand and two". When the front of your vehicle reaches the marker, stop counting. If you reach the marker before you count "one thousand and two,” you are following too closely. In winter, and especially during poor weather conditions, double the two-second rule.

Snowy Roads
Snow on a road may be hard-packed and slippery as ice. It can also be rutted and full of hard tracks and gullies. Or it can be smooth and soft. Wet snow can make for slushy roads. Heavy slush can build up in the wheel wells of your vehicle and can affect your ability to steer. Remember, look far ahead as you drive, so you can recognize hazards and have plenty of time to respond. Adjust your driving to the road and weather conditions. Slow down and avoid sudden turns of the steering wheel, and sudden braking and accelerating, which could cause a skid. Extra caution should be exercised when driving in these road conditions.

Be careful when approaching shaded areas, bridges, and overpasses, as these sections of road freeze much sooner in cold weather and stay frozen long after the sun has risen. Watch out for frost, areas of the road that appear black and shiny, as they can cause your vehicle to suddenly lose traction. Slow down, keep your foot off the brake, and be ready to shift to neutral or step on the clutch as your vehicle crosses these areas.

Snow and Slush Spray
On snowy, wet and slushy roads, large trucks and buses can blow moisture onto your windshield, leading to a sudden loss of visibility. Always drive defensively and leave enough space to avoid snow spray.

It is critical for drivers to see and be seen in low light conditions, and when blowing snow and white-outs impair visibility. Whenever visibility is poor, turn on the vehicle’s full lighting system.

Play it Safe!
Severe winter driving conditions may make you nervous, uncomfortable, or fearful. Stay off the road unless your trip is absolutely necessary. Proper preparation and the right skills will help you face the challenge of winter driving.


Echelon plowing is the practice of staggered snowplows operating across all lanes of a highway in one direction. It is the safest and most efficient snow removal method for multi-lane highways, though sometimes annoying to drivers. Plowing in echelon clears all lanes at once by passing a ridge of snow from one plow to the next.

Leaving Room for Plows
Remain a safe distance back from maintenance equipment when you see blue flashing lights. To do the job right, snowplows and salt and sand trucks must travel slower than regular traffic. Sight lines and visibility near a working snowplow are significantly reduced by blowing snow. Passing is dangerous.

Stay well Back to Help Snowplows Do Their Job!
Never pass a snowplow! It is extremely dangerous to pass either between or around snowplows because of whiteout conditions and the ridge of snow being passed between plows.

At no time should a vehicle pass a snow plow on the right-hand side. This could result in severe, even fatal, collision.

Passing a snow plow is dangerous because...
the large blades on snow plows extend a metre or more ahead and to the right of the snow plow, often extending into the right-hand lane
snow plows are wider at the front than they appear to be from the rear
even at reduced plowing speeds, light powdery snow forms a cloud that severely restricts visibility
the road surface is always better behind the plow than in front of it
When you see the blue flashing lights of a snow plow, remain a safe distance back.

When encountering a plow coming from the opposite direction, move as far away from the centreline of the pavement as you safely can.

Winter Driving Tips have been taken from Ministry of Transportation Ontario's website. Visit here for more tips on safer winter driving.