Winter Road Trip Safety Tips

Whether you’re taking a ski trip to the mountains, going to an out-of-town tournament, or planning a visit to see the grandparents, winter road trips can be fun. To help you keep those great trips safe, here are some tips to keep in mind before you head out and while you’re on the road.

Plan Before Your Trip

  • Winterize your car. Even if you’re not planning a road trip, check your tires (including the spare), battery, belts, hoses, anti-freeze, brakes, heater, defroster and windshield wipers.
  • Bring your cell phone and make sure it’s fully charged.
  • Check the road conditions before you leave.
  • Pack an emergency road kit. With a few exceptions to the items listed here, you can find ready-to-take-home emergency road kits at any AMA centre.

What to include in your emergency road kit:

  • First aid kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Blanket
  • Road map and compass
  • Extra clothes and footwear
  • Paper towels or rags
  • Sand, road salt or non-clumpy kitty litter
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Candle in a deep tin
  • Waterproof matches
  • Shovel
  • Booster cables
  • Flashlight with spare batteries
  • Water and snack food

Stay Aware During Your Trip

  • Top up your tank. Keeping your gas tank more than half full adds weight to your vehicle and prevents gas line freezing. And you’ll want the extra fuel if you ever become stranded.
  • Drive for the conditions. Speed limits are posted for ideal conditions, not when the road is icy or snow-covered.
  • Never use cruise control in less than ideal winter conditions. It’s easier to feel the road and gauge its conditions with your foot on the pedal.

Watch Out For Wildlife on the Road

  • Pay attention to posted wildlife signs, which are placed in areas where wildlife is known to cross the highway.
  • If you spot wildlife beside the road, slow down and pass carefully. Animals are unpredictable and often travel in groups, so if you see one, there are likely others in the area.
  • If you can’t avoid hitting an animal, try not to swerve suddenly. This can cause you to go out of control or hit another vehicle, causing a more severe crash. Try to reduce the impact by braking firmly and hitting the animal at an angle.
  • Avoid driving at night, since most animal migration happens around dusk and the early morning.

What to Do if You’re Stranded

  • Stay put. It’s easy to become disoriented in a snowstorm, so your vehicle is the safest place to be. Don’t leave your vehicle unless you know there’s shelter nearby.
  • Remove snow from the exhaust pipe as a clogged exhaust can be fatal if the carbon monoxide moves into the passenger cabin.
  • Dress in several layers of clothing and make sure that everyone’s heads are covered. Move your arms and legs often and try to stay awake as long as possible.
  • To conserve fuel, only run the engine and heater for 10 minutes each hour.
  • Make yourself visible by turning on the interior lights when the vehicle is running or tying a red cloth or safety ribbon to your antenna. We conveniently include a reflective triangle and S.O.S. banner in our emergency road kits. You can pick one up at any of our centres.

Since 1962, AMA has been providing reliable auto insurance to Albertans. We are proud of our strong Alberta roots and our history of protecting what matters most to you.