As nasty winter weather makes its way towards the Atlantic coast, it's important to keep in mind the following safe winter driving suggestions:

  1. Safest strategy — avoid driving in bad weather
  2. Check road conditions and plan your trip accordingly (e.g. stick to main roads)
  3. Drive slower than posted speed limits
  4. Allow extra time for your commute
  5. Allow extra space between you and the car in front of you so you can stop in time
  6. When approaching a red light or stop sign, give yourself more time to stop
  7. Be mindful of pedestrians at intersections and crosswalks
  8. Be sure to clear your vehicle completely of snow and ice, especially windows and mirrors
  9. Be sure to turn on your vehicle's lights so your brake lights are visible
  10. Be alert, well rested and sober

Also, cold weather is brutal on car batteries. Nova Scotia rarely has temperatures cold enough to kill a battery but the latest deep freeze is taking its toll all the same.

With that in mind, here's the CAA's list of signs that your battery may be ready to die:

  • Your vehicle cranks slowly when trying to start
  • You hear a grinding, clicking or buzzing when you turn the ignition
  • Your vehicle has previously stalled
  • Your headlights dim when you are idling but brighten when you rev the engine

CAA recommends replacing a battery the minute its performance becomes suspect. This way you avoid being stranded in minus double-digit weather.

Some other tips:

  • Turn off your vehicle's lights, heater and radio before trying to start it
  • Remember that the average life of a battery is three to five years, but driving conditions, weather and lack of care can shorten the lifespan of a battery

Also, here's a list of materials you should keep in the car in winter months:

  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Booster cables
  • Extra clothing and footwear
  • Blankets and sleeping bags
  • Fully charged smart phone
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Bottled water (unfrozen)
  • Granola or energy bars

Stopping Distances at 50km/h

Test conditions: -20°C with 3 to 5 cm of compacted snow and ice on asphalt surface. Vehicles equipped with automatic transmission and anti-lock brakes. Tests in 4-wheel drive vehicle conducted in all-wheel drive mode.
Choose Tire Type:
In a car
In a minivan
In a 4WD vehicle

SOURCE: Government of Ontario