Winter Safety

Winter Safety:

For snow removal and salting on campus please see the Facility Services page here: Snow Removal & Salting | Facility Services (



Now that winter is upon us and snow has fallen it is important to remember that these unpredictable weather conditions can place extra demands on your vehicle and your driving skills. The following hazards and precautions are always good reminders during this time of year:

  1. Poor traction. When on slippery terrain, use a light foot on the accelerator, easing forward gently. Don’t spin your wheels. In deep snow, try turning your wheels from side to side to push the snow.
  2. Reduced ability to stop. Stopping on ice- and snow-covered roads requires three to 12 times the distance needed on dry roads. Test studies show that the heavier the vehicle, the greater the stopping distance. The simple answer: leave a greater following distance between you and the vehicle in front. Gearing down also helps bring you to a safe stop.
  3. Starting and stopping. Braking on ice is never easy, but as the temperature rises ice becomes even more slippery. For example, your braking distance can double with a temperature variation from zero to -18° C. Check the feel of the road when you start out and at regular intervals on your trip.
  4. Slippery surfaces. Tires that spin and slide on snow and ice polish the surface. This greatly reduces traction on already hazardous road surfaces, most often at intersections, on curves and on hills. The slippery road surface increases braking distances and slows traffic. Compensate by slowing down early when approaching a slippery intersection, curve or hill. Consider gearing down to start the slowing process. Watch out for black ice. The road ahead may appear to be black and shiny asphalt. Beware: it may be covered by a thin layer of ice known as black ice. Generally, in the winter, asphalt is a grey-white colour. If you see a black surface ahead, slow down and brake smoothly and gently. Proceed with caution.
  5. Reduced ability to see and be seen. Before starting your trip, clean off the entire windshield, all the windows, and the roof of your vehicle. Wipe off the headlights, turn signals, and stop and tail lights so that others can see you. You may need to do this frequently during a heavy storm.Road splatter can leave you blind. Use your windshield washer often. To prevent a windshield freeze-up, be sure you use washer fluid that’s right for the winter temperatures in your area, and don‘t dilute it. This will weaken its effectiveness.Before using the washer fluid, prepare the windshield by heating it with a full blast of the defroster. Run your heater and defroster for a few minutes before you start out. This prevents sudden fogging of your windshield.

Techniques for Skillful Winter Driving:

Keep the following general tips in mind while driving this winter.

  • Start smoothly. Don’t spin your tires.
  • Control your speed. Take it slow. Adjust to the road conditions.
  • Take hills cautiously. Reduce speed at the crest of hills so you’re prepared for what’s on the other side.
  • Apply steering control smoothly, avoiding sudden moves leading to a skid.
  • Signal your intentions well in advance. Plan lane changes early.
  • Watch for reduced clearances at underpasses due to accumulated ice or packed snow.
  • Don’t tailgate. Leave enough room ahead of you for an unexpected stop.
  • Stop safely without ABS (antilock brake system) brakes: a rapid light pumping of the brakes is a recommended way to stop on ice. Note that this method will increase your overall stopping distance.
  • Stop safely with ABS brakes: the system will pump the brakes for you if your wheels begin to lock up. This lets you maintain steering control.

Emergency Car Kit:

It is recommended to have a well-stocked winter driving kit helps to handle any emergency.  Please see the recommendations on what to stock in your driving kit here:


Working in Cold Conditions:


Other reference documents:

  1. Canadian Center of Occupational Health and Safety - CCOHS: Driving - Winter
  2. Transport Canada - Driving safely in winter (