Starting and Driving Your Vehicle in the Cold Winter Months

Starting and Driving Your Vehicle in the Cold Winter Months

When the cold weather comes, winter driving myths are never far behind. We’ve all heard of a number of ways to stay safe and properly maintain our vehicles during the winter, but some of the most common winter driving advice may actually do more harm than good. Vehicle technology and driving regulations are always evolving, so it’s important to focus on what works right now, rather than what worked in the past. Ahead, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most common winter driving myths, along with tips to help you avoid vehicle insurance claims by navigating the Alberta winter safely.

Perhaps the most common and persistent winter driving myth is that it’s a good idea to “warm up” your vehicle by letting it idle for a few minutes before you hit the road. In this case, the myth is actually based in fact. Older vehicles had less efficient engines, and often had to be idled for a few minutes to run effectively in cold weather. With today’s vehicles, that’s no longer the case.

  • Idling is very inefficient, and can even damage your vehicle’s engine. Over time, idling can cause carbon build-up.
  • Vehicle engines are designed to work most efficiently while the car is in motion, and today’s vehicles only require a few moments to get the oil flowing before you hit the road.
  • Leaving your car idling in a public place is also a big security risk, so avoiding the habit can lower the risk of car theft.
  • Yes, not idling means you don’t get to jump in a warm, cozy car in the morning, but more efficient engine also means that the heat gets pumping quickly once the car is in motion.

Simple Safe Driving Tips to Handle the Winter

Winter driving safety starts with preparation, and it’s a very good idea to put together an emergency kit in your vehicle. Include blankets, water, a flashlight, first aid supplies, non-perishable food, an ice scraper, and a road map, to start. Once you’re on the road, caution is the name of the game.

  • Plow trucks and salt spreaders need room to operate, so make sure you follow at a safe distance. Drivers of these vehicles will periodically pull over to let traffic pass by.
  • Plan your route ahead of time, and keep a backup map on hand just in case you can’t get cellphone service. This is especially important if you’re expecting bad weather.
  • Take it slow when turning, braking, and accelerating. When you approach a traffic light or stop sign in wintry conditions, give yourself about three times the normal distance to stop.
  • Signal turns sooner than you would in normal weather, in order to give the drivers around you more time to respond.
  • Be wary in parking areas, at intersections, and anyplace else where low-speed accidents are common. These are common places for accidents even in good conditions, and low-speed accidents can still cause significant vehicle damage and personal injury.
  • If the forecast is looking especially grim, there’s no shame in staying home, even if it means changing plans. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

There’s no way to completely eliminate the risk of winter accidents, so it’s also a good idea to make sure you have the vehicle insurance you need to be covered in the event of an accident. Stay safe, take it slow, and another Alberta winter will be in the rear-view mirror before you know it.

Bow Valley Insurance

Our team at Bow Valley Insurance is here to help with all of your insurance needs. Learn more about our auto insurance options, or get started with a free vehicle insurance quote from our team.