6 Winter Driving Tips from an AMA Driving Instructor

Winter is the perfect time to relearn safe driving habits. Even if it’s too late for a blemish-free driving record, we can always do better. Here are some helpful tips for safe winter driving from Ron Wilson of AMA Driver Education.

  • Drive to the Conditions

    The posted speed limit refers only to ideal circumstances. So if it’s snowing while you’re driving down Hwy. 2, you probably shouldn’t be driving 110 km/h. The more conditions degrade, the slower you should go.
  • Scan the Road Ahead

    In the city you want to look 12 to 15 seconds ahead (just over one city block). On the highway, look about 20-30 seconds ahead.
  • Adjust Your Following Distance

    “It’s not about car lengths,” Wilson says. It’s about timing. “In dry conditions in a 50 km/h zone, we advise you stay two-to-three seconds back. On snowy streets, make that four to six. Consider leaving even more room if the roads are icy.”
  • Turn On Your Lights

    Snow and mud decrease your vehicle’s visibility. Make a habit of turning on your lights during the day, and ensuring they are clean.
  • Watch What Your Wear

    Winter clothes can be bulky and restrictive, which creates another potential distraction when you’re driving. Make sure your winter clothes aren’t hindering your driving performance while you’re driving.
  • Use Your Brakes Safely

    Ignore what you’ve heard about pumping the brakes in slippery conditions. For vehicles with ABS brakes, use a firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal and don’t let up. For non-ABS vehicles, use a threshold braking technique. Brake to the point just before wheels lock up, and if they do start to, just ease up on brake slightly and reapply.


Even the most experienced drivers can be taken off guard at times. Winter is a force to be reckoned with, but you can apply safe winter driving habits by following these expert tips.

Are you concerned about your winter driving skills? Consider taking our Online Winter Driving course through AMA Driver Education.

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