Winter Safe Driving Tips
Here are some important tips to help keep us safe while driving this winter.
Driver Safety Checklist
✓ CHECK WEATHER & ROAD CONDITIONS: Snow and ice can make for treacherous roads. Be prepared to adjust your driving behaviour to the current weather and road conditions. Reduce your speed and drive with caution. Allow extra time to arrive at your destination. Increase the distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Check the Highway Hotline for updates on winter road conditions.
✓ DEFROST YOUR WINDOWS BEFORE YOU DRIVE: Take the time to remove ice and snow from your vehicle for clear visibility.
✓ #UNPLUGANDDRIVE: Eliminate distractions such as the use of mobile phones, eating, drinking, adjusting entertainment or navigation systems, grooming, long conversations, and smoking. Keep your eyes and mind focused on the task of safe driving.
✓ SLOW DOWN MOVE OVER: Remember, slow down move over for first responders, including tow truck operators, law enforcement, paramedics, firefighters, and construction crews working on Saskatchewan highways. Know the risks. It’s a matter of life and death.
✓ WATCH FOR SNOWPLOWS: Snowplows have blue and amber flashing lights for increased visibility. Remember to slow down, stay back, and stay safe. Learn about the Snow Zone and how to pass safely, visit the Ministry of Highways website.
✓ STAY CONNECTED: Pack a mobile phone with charger to use in case of emergencies or calling for CAA Roadside Assistance. Ensure that your driver’s licence, vehicle insurance, travel insurance, and CAA membership are up to date.
✓ PACK A ROADSIDE KIT: Items to include – non-perishable food, a shovel, window ice scraper, snow brush and booster cables. Pack extra winter gear such as mitts, toques, parkas, footwear, and blankets. Remember, roadside safety kits are available at all CAA Saskatchewan Stores.
✓ SEE AND BE SEEN: For safety and visibility, your vehicle’s headlights and taillights should be turned on before sunrise, after sunset and in harsh weather and low visibility. Don’t be the driver of a phantom vehicle. Be seen and be ready. Learn more.
✓ ADVICE FOR DRIVING IN THE COUNTRY: Winter driving can be a challenge at the best of times. On rural roads it’s even trickier: They’re often more exposed to hazards like crossing wildlife and reduced visibility. They’re also more isolated. Learn how CAA has got your back if you’re stranded in the country. Read Rural Rescues in the CAA Saskatchewan Magazine.
✓ STRANDED IN THE SNOW: Learn what you should and shouldn’t do if you’re stranded in the snow, plus brush up on some tips to conquer snowy hills, handle black ice, recover from a skid, and navigate a whiteout. Read Winter Driving School and I’m Stuck! Now What? in CAA Saskatchewan Magazine.
Vehicle Safety Checklist
✓ WINTER TIRES: CAA recommends a good set of winter tires as the rubber compound allows for better traction and control. Consider the tread design, type of rubber, size, and conditions of use. Learn more about winter tires in CAA Saskatchewan Magazine.
✓ CHECK YOUR TIRE PRESSURE: The right pressure is important for traction and fuel efficiency. Check the air pressure regularly. Improper inflation can not only be dangerous but can also cause increased tire wear resulting in added costs for replacement tires.
✓ BRAKES: Have your brakes inspected thoroughly and service them if necessary. This will help with better braking power especially on icy, snow-covered roads.
✓ CHECK YOUR VEHICLE’S BATTERY: Extreme weather weakens the battery, and it may require changing. Vehicle batteries can be checked at the CAA Car Care Centre at Regina Battery Depot, or any CAA Approved Auto Repair Service.
✓ TOP UP FLUIDS: This includes antifreeze, brake fluid, and the window washer fluid which are all vital to safe winter travel. Examine belts for proper belt tension.
✓ FUEL: Keep a full tank or at minimum a half tank of fuel. This will help reduce moisture in the gas tank plus it adds weight to your vehicle.
✓ BLOCK HEATER AND CORD: Make sure the block heater cord is not frayed. Always plug in at -15°C.
Slow Down Move Over
CAA Slow Down Move Over is a national day of safety in observance and recognition of first responders working on our highways, including tow truck operators, police officers, paramedics, fire department crews, construction workers, and highway patrol staff. CAA Clubs across Canada have designated the second Tuesday in May annually, as Slow Down Move Over to bring attention to this important safety issue.
“Saskatchewan highways are not just highways,” said Randy Schulz, White City Fire Department Chief. “The highways are our work zones that we’ve set up and marked to let motorists know that we’re on the job helping people who are expecting us to help them. Motorists must slow down to help keep us safe and protect us while we’re working. Our fire department team has seen too many dangerous situations and close calls.”
Brad Stratychuk, President of Roadside Responders Association, added, “We’re constantly reminded of the dangers, knowing that in 2017, a tow operator was killed on duty during a blizzard while providing roadside assistance in the Esterhazy area.
It's the law to slow to 60 km/h for all first responders working on Saskatchewan highways. Know the risks. Slow down move over.
May 2021 Slow Down Move Over Day Campaign
The 2021 CAA Slow Down Move Over social media campaign consisted of produced personal messages featuring the faces and voices of participating safety partners. Thank you to RCMP “F” Division Traffic Services, Roadside Responders Association (RRA), Paramedic Services Chiefs of Saskatchewan, White City Fire Department, and CAA Saskatchewan Roadside Assistance. Read the news release for more information.
- Across Canada, there are more than 7,500 tow truck operators employed by or contracted to provincial CAA clubs. Each one receives ongoing training, plus equipment like reflective pylons and high-visibility clothing.
- In January 2021, a tow truck operator was involved in a serious collision while working on a highway near North Battleford, Saskatchewan. An Oshawa tow truck driver was killed in 2019 while assisting a motorist on a highway near Durham, Ontario. Tragically, a tow truck operator near Esterhazy, Saskatchewan, was struck and killed in 2017 while working during a blizzard.
- CAA Saskatchewan worked with key safety stakeholders to lobby the Government of Saskatchewan for new legislation allowing tow trucks to display blue lights in addition to amber lights when assisting motorists. In April 2017, Saskatchewan became the first province to permit this additional safety precaution.
- While the exact number of collisions involving tow trucks is unknown, data from CAA National indicates that each year in North America, dozens of tow operators are killed while doing their jobs. Each one of these deaths is entirely preventable: Slow down move over.
It only takes a second to be distracted.
#UnplugAndDrive is the theme behind CAA’s youth-based video campaign. And the message is clear: if you’re driving, put your phone away. Gen Z is a socially conscious generation and almost all of them know that distracted driving is wrong, yet 1 in 6 young Canadians still have admitted to driving distracted.
People don’t think they’re distracted drivers because they aren’t “texting”. But today, distracted driving is so much more than sending a text. Music apps, maps, messaging apps and social media are all frequently used while driving and pose the same threat as calling or texting. Watch the series of #UNPLUGANDDRIVE videos: Montage, Pelican, Bears, and Octopus.
Here are a few surprising, distracted driving statistics:
- Over a quarter of young Canadians aged 18-24 years old said they saw an increase in people using their phone while driving in 2020. (CAA polling, 2020)
- 47% of Canadians admitted that they have typed out or used the voice-memo feature to send a message while driving. (CAA, 2020)
- If a driver texts, they’re 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near collision. (Traffic Injury Research Foundation, 2019)
- Canadians say that texting while driving is one of the biggest threats to their personal safety on the road. (CAA, 2018)
Running Late? What are the Risks of Driving While Feeling Rushed?
If you’re driving a vehicle while running late, you can become very anxious. Every red light and vehicle in front of you can increase your stress. You are inclined to speed, make quick maneuvers, and rush through intersections in hopes of “saving time”. You’re also more likely to send a text message to someone letting them know you will be late. According to Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), driver inattention and distraction is responsible for 21% of all collisions. What can be done in preparation, before our journey begins, to ensure that we are ready to drive while staying distraction and anxiety free? Read Take Control of your Focus: De-stress the Drive.
Source: Saskatchewan Safety Council
Distracted Driving Statistics in Saskatchewan
Over the past five years (2016-2020), an average of 877 people have been injured each year in collisions caused by driver distraction and inattention on Saskatchewan roads, which represents one out of every five auto vehicle injuries. Distracted driving also results in an average of 26 fatalities per year. Distracted driving injures more people than collisions resulting from impaired driving and speeding combined. Learn more about the Costs of Distracted Driving.
Source: Saskatchewan Government Insurance
The fact is that our population is aging.
While more experience is a good thing, so is awareness that some age-related changes are inevitable. Over the years, our pupils get smaller and can affect our ability to drive safety. Hearing loss can affect our ability to react to our surroundings and diminishing motor skills can affect our reaction time. Those changes don’t have to mean the end of a driving life. Here are some driving resources to help you out.
Senior’s Toolkit: CAA, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), and the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) have designed a toolkit for seniors and their loved ones. Use the senior’s toolkit to assess fitness to drive under different conditions, stay safe behind the wheel, maintain driving confidence as you age, and take concrete steps to modify driving habits if needed. Learn more
CarFit Program: CarFit is an educational program for mature drivers where a trained technician and occupational therapist help to identify how the fit of your vehicle can affect your driving. We assist drivers in understanding and applying the built-in safety features of their vehicle and offer education on your vehicle’s enhanced restraints and protection if you are unaware of them. CarFit is free to CAA Members and non-members. Learn more
55 Alive Mature Drivers Program: The 55 Alive Mature Drivers Program is offered by Saskatchewan Safety Council. Contact the Saskatchewan Safety Council for more information.
There’s nothing quite like the freedom that comes with a driver’s licence. It can mean independence and open new possibilities for travel, employment, and education.
But there are responsibilities associated with driving that all drivers should be aware of to help make the roads safer for everyone.
Here are five safety reminders for young drivers:
1. Safety First
Safety is every driver’s main responsibility – the safety of everyone in and around your vehicle: passengers, other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. Obey the rules of the road and always pay attention to your surroundings. Safe driving behaviour will also help keep your insurance costs down.
You can make a difference even if you’re not in the driver’s seat. As a passenger:
- Do not distract the driver. Instead, offer to be a designated phone user to reduce any distractions to the driver.
- Be vigilant and let the driver know about anything that may compromise safety.
- Never travel with drivers who are impaired or behaving dangerously.
2. Plan Ahead
Cannabis and alcohol may be legal in Canada but driving while under the influence of these and other substances is not. The consequences of impaired driving are harsh and can be deadly. We have information and resources on cannabis to help you and your loved ones stay safe on the road. Learn more
3. Avoid distractions
Music, apps, maps, and social media are all frequently used while driving and pose the same threat as calling or texting. While most Canadians recognize the risks of distracted driving, 1 in 6 Canadians have admitted to driving distracted. Being at the wheel of a vehicle is complex multi-tasking – it challenges you to watch, listen, steer, brake, anticipate, and calculate in real time. Focus your attention on driving. If you need to take your eyes off the road, pull over safely and stop. #UnplugAndDrive
4. Understand the cost of driving
Your expenses will include more than just the vehicle purchase cost. There are licence and registration fees, taxes, and insurance. Use our Driving Costs Calculator to figure out your estimated total driving expenses.
5. Make a deal
If you are sharing a family vehicle, consider making an agreement or deal with your parents. Talk with them about ensuring you can have a safe ride home, without judgement, if you are in a situation where you do not feel safe driving the car home. In return, you retain driving privileges such as using the car on certain nights.
Here’s some additional resources and advice for new drivers. Learn More
Once upon a time, a dim instrument panel reminded motorists that their headlights weren’t engaged. But in most new vehicles, the panel is backlit anytime the engine is running. This leads some motorists to assume their daytime running lights (DRL) are also on. Problem is, in many vehicles, DRL doesn’t include rear illumination.
Before sunrise, after sunset and in bad weather, you get what are known as phantom vehicles. These are cars that are virtually invisible from behind because their rear lights aren’t on. It’s a pet peeve for many drivers. And it’s a safety issue due to the visibility risks. The motorists following you can’t see your taillights, and it decreases their reaction time to brake or avoid a rear-end collision.
So how can you ensure your car is lit? Many vehicles have an “Auto” option whereby sensors gauge ambient light to switch between DRL and a fully engaged headlight system; just make sure that setting is on. Look for an “A,” “Auto” or the DRL symbol on your light dial. For cars lacking an automatic option, keeping your headlights on when driving is the safest bet.
The Government of Canada announced safety legislation that will require all new cars sold in Canada as of 2021 to be more visible in low-light conditions.
This new safety standard will require auto manufacturers do one of the following:
- Have daytime running lights and taillights come on when the vehicle instrument panel is illuminated, and the vehicle is in operation.
- Automatically turn on the headlights, taillights, and side marker lights in low-light conditions; or
- Keep the driver’s instrument panel dark so the driver knows to turn on all the lights.
To increase awareness about phantom vehicles, CAA partnered with Transport Canada on the See and Be Seen campaign. To learn more about phantom vehicles and how to help raise awareness please visit www.tc.gc.ca/SEEandbeSEEN.