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Winter driving

Ice, snow, slippery highways... driving in winter conditions can be both challenging and frustrating. Here are some helpful tips to keep you and your loved ones safer on the road.

It's snowing... what do I do?

mother and son, snow and car

Feeling uneasy about driving? You’re not alone. According to an ICBC survey, almost four in 10 of respondents feel less confident driving during the winter. In addition, seven in 10 feel less safe and frustrated by the actions of other drivers.

Staying off the road can sometimes be a less stressful and safer option.

Instead of driving, you may want to consider taking public transit if available, carpooling with a friend who’s a confident driver, taking a taxi or working from home.

If you're feeling confident

If your vehicle is equipped for the weather and you’re feeling confident, remember to take extra precautions on the road.

Plan ahead and always check road and weather conditions on drivebc.caexternal link before heading out.

Be sure to leave more following distance, slow down, and give yourself more time to get where you’re going. Speed limits are set for ideal conditions only.

Driving tips

Know what to do if your car hydroplanes? What about black ice?

Hydroplaning

Hydroplaning happens when the tires lose contact with the road surface and float on a film of water. If you find yourself hydroplaning, ease off the accelerator and keep steering in the direction you want to go. Avoid braking.

Black ice

During the winter, temperatures can change quickly, which can cause unpredictable road conditions. Although the road may look the same, black ice can form unexpectedly and may not be visible.

Black ice is commonly found on roads with shaded areas, bridges, overpasses and intersections where car exhaust and packed snow freeze quickly.

If you drive over black ice and start to skid, ease off the accelerator, and look and steer smoothly in the direction you want to go. Don't brake—this will make the situation worse. You may need to repeat this manoeuvre several times until you regain control.

Adjust for conditions

Potholes can be another hazard during cold and wet weather. For all types of winter hazards, remember two key tips: reduce your speed and increase your following distance. The more time you have to react to any hazard the better.

Read more in our safe driving guide, Learn to drive smart, and ICBC’s driving in poor conditions pamphlet

Do I have to use winter tires?

Although winter tires are not mandatory in B.C., keep in mind that the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure can designate them to be required on certain roads and highways.external linkThis typically happens during the fall and winter months in northern B.C. and the southern Interior.

If you are driving on these roads without winter tires, police can ticket you and make you turn back.

ICBC recommends winter tires

For your safety and the safety of other drivers, ICBC recommends winter tires for driving in snow and ice, especially if you live in an area where you would normally expect a lot of snow. Why? You're less likely to slide on the road. All season tires begin to lose their elasticity and grip on the road at temperatures below 7°C, according to Transport Canada.

Winter tire demonstration from Transport Canada

Will driving without winter tires void my insurance?

No. Driving without winter tires will not void your insurance if you have a claim. It also won't mean you're automatically at-fault in a crash. However, if you get in a crash where winter tires could have helped, not having them may affect whether—or how much—you are at-fault.

Questions? Call us

For questions about winter tires and insurance, call us:

Hours:

Safer vehicles

Speed relative