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Follow these tips to ensure you and your vehicle stay safe on winter roads.

Prepare yourself and your vehicle for winter driving, and drive for the conditions. 

Prepare Yourself

Before you set out on a winter journey, plan for the conditions and prepare accordingly.

Check the forecast and weather conditions

Is it safe to go?

Plan your route

Find up-to-date, province-wide information at 511 Alberta.

Give yourself plenty of time

Travel during daylight hours whenever possible. Tell someone your route and anticipated arrival time.

Learn to drive in winter conditions

Get winter driving training to learn how to brake safely and how to get out of a skid. 

Maintain a safe following distance

Keep at least 4 seconds distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.

Wear warm, comfortable clothing

Dress in layers so you can stay warm in case you have car trouble or have to leave your vehicle.

Have an emergency plan

If you get stuck or stranded, stay with your vehicle for safety and warmth. Always carry a charged cell phone to call for assistance. 

Prepare Your Vehicle

Winter weather can be hard on your vehicle and its engine. Follow these tips to ensure your ride is up to the challenge.

Install winter tires

Use four matching winter tires that bear the mountain/snowflake winter tire symbol and have tread no less than 4 mm — even when driving a 4x4 vehicle. Check the air pressure in your tires frequently, as it decreases in cold weather.
Learn more about winter tires

Winterize your vehicle

Have your battery, belts, hoses, antifreeze, tires, brakes, heater, defroster and windshield wipers inspected before winter sets in.

Consider changing your wiper blades to winter blades, which are heavier and can push snow more easily.

Keep a winter survival kit in your car. Include:

Non-perishable food

Blankets, extra clothing and footwear

Fuel line antifreeze

Battery jumper cables

Windshield scraper and snowbrush

Shovel and traction mat, sand or kitty litter

Candle and matches

Flashlight and extra batteries

Keep your windows, lights, mirrors, hood and roof clear of snow and ice

When you start your vehicle, wait for the windows to defrost completely before driving.

Make sure your windshield washer reservoir is full of winter washer fluid

Keep an extra jug in your vehicle.

Keep your fuel tank more than half full

The extra volume can help reduce moisture problems, and is important if you’re ever stranded.

Drive for the Conditions

In winter, driving conditions can change rapidly from clear roads and blue skies to white-out conditions and ice covered roads. Don’t take chances.

Speed and Control

Match your speed to road conditions

Driving on snow and ice can be unpredictable. If you’re driving too fast, your vehicle may fishtail, spin or skid off the road at a corner. 

Speed limits

The posted speed is the maximum speed under ideal conditions. In winter, it is safer to drive slower than the posted speed. 

Accelerate and brake slowly

Accelerate gently to maintain traction. When stopping, begin slowing down well in advance and apply the brakes gently. 

Avoid rapid moves

Avoid quick movements that could put your vehicle into a spin. Anticipate turns, stops and lane changes well before they occur. Steer smoothly and gradually to avoid skidding.

Stopping Distances

As snow falls

Pavement is most slippery when it first starts to snow.

Black ice

Slow down for on and off ramps, overpasses, shady spots, and bridge decks where black ice might form.


Clear winter roads may still have sand on them. Although sand improves traction on snow and ice, on dry roads it acts like tiny ball bearings between your tires and the road. Brake early.

Distance between vehicles

Following too closely is the number one cause of collisions in Edmonton. As driving conditions deteriorate, leave more space between vehicles.



Be sure your windshield and side windows are clean and free from frost. Have winter windshield washer fluid in the tank and make sure your wiper blades are in good shape. 

Into the sun

Driving towards the sunrise or sunset can be blinding. Keep sunglasses in your vehicle.


Always drive with your headlights on. Use low beam headlights only during a snowstorm or in fog. 

Pull over

If you can’t see well enough to drive, pull as far off the road as you safely can. Use the vehicle’s hazard lights to warn other drivers of your presence.

Road maintenance equipment

Be extremely cautious when approaching snow plows, sanding trucks and other road maintenance equipment. Maintain a safe following distance and be patient. Visibility could be limited behind snow removal equipment.

For More Information

Roadway Maintenance


In Edmonton: 311
Outside Edmonton: 780-442-5311

TTY 780-944-5555

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