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On The Road

How to Drive Safely in Freezing Rain

Driving in the winter is challenging, and even more so in the freezing rain. Take a look at these tips to stay safe on the wintery roads ahead.

by Team Onlia

Darker night, colder weather – what’s not to love about Canadian winters? Tougher winters mean dangerous driving conditions, which is something you’re likely well aware of if you’ve survived a Canadian winter before. Freezing rain is one of the weather conditions we have to look forward to each and every year, and driving in it can prove to be quite a challenge. Take a look at these tips to make sure you stay safe on the road, even in freezing rain.

Clear off your car before you head out

Did the temperature drop overnight? Looks like you’ll be starting the day with some de-icing. Whether it’s snow or ice, you don’t want to risk the dangers of driving without clearing off your car. Turning on the heat and waiting for the ice to melt away can work if you’ve got the time to wait, but don’t take off in hopes that it’ll melt as you drive. Your best (and fastest) bet is to whip out your brush and scraper, and get to clearing!

Leave extra distance between vehicles

You’ve successfully de-iced your car and you’re on your way. As you start navigating those side streets or driving down the highway, be sure to leave extra distance between yourself and other cars. Increasing your braking distance in inclement weather will help you avoid collisions with other drivers.

Be (extra) alert

Other drivers may not be as conscientious about removing snow or ice from their cars, potentially putting other drivers at risk. Be mindful of the surrounding cars, particularly trucks. If you see that a motorist hasn’t removed snow or ice from their vehicle, pull back if possible.

Snow sometimes accompanies freezing rain, so beware of snowplows out trying to clear the road for other drivers. These vehicles must travel much slower than others. Be generous with the extra space around them, and go slow.

Finally, never pass a slow plow — extremely dangerous.

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Slow down

During freezing rain, slow down and try to drive in the tracks of other drivers. Also, be mindful when changing lanes; only do it when you need to, since ice can build up in these sections, making them much more dangerous than usual.

Slowing down helps you remain sharp and aware of your surroundings, gives you enough braking distance, and will allow you a little more reaction time when it comes to fast-changing situations.

If your car does start sliding on ice and you lose control, do not slam on the brakes.

Braking makes a slide worse. Instead, turn your car in the direction of the slide — also known as turning into the slide. That said, don’t over-correct by violently jerking the wheel to one side.

Be proactive

It’s worth taking some preventative measures before freezing rain shows up. Be sure to equip your car with proper winter tires, and you should also stock your car with a proper emergency kit. If, for any reason, you wind up stranded you’ll have snacks, extra clothing, first aid equipment, and other necessities until help arrives.

Give yourself some extra time

Above all, give yourself extra time to reach your destination. By eliminating the stress of running late, you can take the roads at a slower speed, pay attention to your fellow motorists, and get to your destination safely.

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