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Posted on: November 30, 2021

Stay safe with these helpful winter driving tips!

Winter Driving Tips MAINThe Town of High Level would like to help local drivers with some tips and reminders regarding safe winter driving during this winter season.

Every winter, Town crews are busy with snow clearing on local roads and sanding problem areas around town. While sand can lose some effectiveness during extreme cold, the Town’s five-person snow removal crew are hard at work clearing and sanding every day. Sanding usually takes place once per day either in the mornings or in the afternoons.

With a crew of five people responsible for all the road clearing and sanding efforts in town, it can take some time to get to all the problem areas. We are urging drivers to be cautious and drive to conditions, and asking for some patience while we to get to the problem areas.

The Provincial Government provides many helpful tips on safe winter driving, which can be found on their website: For convenience, we are including them here.

It is important to winterize your vehicle! This can include examinations of the following:

  • Tires (including your spare)
  • Battery
  • Belts and hoses
  • Anti-freeze
  • Brakes
  • Heater
  • Defroster
  • Windshield wipers

Try to maintain at least a half-tank of fuel. Carry a spare jug of windshield wiper fluid in the car. Get an oil change if you have not had one recently! And be sure to pack some drinking water in your vehicle for emergencies as well. A well-stocked emergency kit is vital for winter-safe driving.

An emergency kit should include the following:

  • First aid kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Blanket
  • Road map and compass
  • Extra clothing and footwear
  • Paper towel or rags
  • Sand, road salt, or non-clumping kitty litter
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Emergency food – anything that will not spoil, such as granola bars, nuts, or chocolate
  • Ice scraper and snowbrush
  • Cell phone
  • Candle in a deep tin
  • Waterproof matches
  • Shovel
  • Booster cables

It is especially important to have winter tires, and to make sure those tires are properly inflated, and in good working condition.

Winter or snow tires are specially designed for low temperatures and snowy and icy conditions experienced in Alberta. They provide better traction than regular or all-season tires. All tire rubber stiffens as the weather gets colder, but the latest generations of winter tires maintain their elasticity even at extremely low temperatures approaching -30°C and below, providing superior traction and grip.

Windows should be cleared and wipers should be checked to ensure they are in good working order.

Before you hit the road, clean snow and ice off your:

  • Windows
  • Side-view mirrors
  • Headlights
  • Taillights
  • Licence plate

Buckle up and adjust headrests (the centre of your headrest should be even with the top of your ears)

Always drive to conditions! That means leaving plenty of room between yourself and other cars. Allow yourself up to three car lengths of space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. Remember, it is the law, and you can get a ticket if you do not drive to conditions!

Practice safe driving techniques:

  • Slow down, as posted speed limits are intended for ideal road conditions
  • Stay back from snowplows until they let you pass
  • Plan your destination ahead of time
  • Keep your headlights on so drivers behind you can see your taillights - do not rely on daytime running lights

When changing lanes:

  • Signal early to let other drivers anticipate and react
  • Check your rear-view and side mirrors, and always shoulder check before changing lanes
  • Avoid sudden moves (swerving or braking) that could cause you to spin out of control
  • Never use cruise control in winter conditions

When driving on slick roads:

  • Allow at least 3 times the normal following distance
  • Remember that bridge decks are often slicker than other parts of the highway due to greater temperature fluctuations
  • On snowy roads, try driving outside of the previous tire tracks for extra traction

Know your braking system and how it reacts on ice:

  • Be gentle with braking pressure on slick roads
  • Avoid braking on curves – drive through on a safe, steady speed
  • Accelerate slightly when approaching hills and then maintain a steady speed going up
  • Gear down for both uphill climbs and downhill grades to avoid brake wear and chances of sliding
  • Be careful of abrupt downshifting, which can cause skidding - particularly when turning
  • Take your foot off the brake if you start to skid, and steer in the direction you want to go; when the wheels regain their grip, brake firmly and smoothly
  • When driving a rear-wheel drive, prepare to steer just enough in the opposite direction to prevent a counter skid

Finally, if you encounter a working snowplow or sander truck on the road, consider taking a different route if you can!

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