Winter driving 101: How to survive Metro Vancouver’s ‘snowmageddon’

How to prepare for the next snowmageddon
WATCH: How to prepare for the next snowmageddon

Lower Mainland drivers were dealing with serious winter conditions Wednesday after a Pacific storm dumped piles of snow across the region.

Most Metro Vancouverites don’t get a tremendous amount of opportunity to practise driving in the snow, meaning plenty of motorists found themselves slipping and sliding on the roads.

According to ICBC, the results are measurable. Call volume to ICBC’s Dial-a-Claim centre were up 22 per cent on Monday and nine per cent on Tuesday over the same days the week prior.

WATCH: How not to drive in the Vancouver snow

More than 5,000 claims calls were logged on Monday in the Lower Mainland.

We’ve collected some tips and tricks — some for safety, and some for convenience — to help you make sure you get where you are going in one piece during the snowstorm.

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You can find more at the province’s Shift Into Winter page.

On the roads

  • Use snow tires — This one seems obvious, but if you don’t have tires with an M+S designation or the mountain and snowflake logo, leave the car at home.
  • Slow down — This one is another no-brainer. The speed limit is the maximum speed you’re allowed to drive. In winter conditions, slow things down. You don’t know how your car may behave on snow or black ice.
  • Keep a safe distance — With slippery roads, remember that stopping will be more difficult. Ensure there is a nice, big space between you and the car in front of you in case you need to stop suddenly or find yourself in a skid.
  • Take it easy on the wheel and pedals —  Brake or accelerate gradually to keep traction on slippery roads. The same goes for turning: slow down and smoothly turn the wheel, while avoiding quick movements that could put you into a spin. Anticipate stops and ease into them.
  • Beware black ice — Cut your speed when approaching icy areas like bridges, overpasses or shaded places. These can accumulate a thin, nearly invisible coating of ice that can cause you to lose control when braking or turning.
  • Skidding? Don’t panic — If you start to skid or lose control of your vehicle, ease off the brake or the gas pedal and steer gently into the direction you want to go. Don’t over-steer. If you’re on ice and heading in a straight line, put your car in neutral or step on the clutch.
  • Use your lights — This makes sure others can see you and will help prevent collisions.
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READ MORE: Snow. Vancouver. Lamborghini. ‘N’ sign. And other tales from a winter commute

Off the roads

  • Clear your car — This isn’t just a tip, it’s the law. Drivers are required to effectively clear snow from all windows on their vehicle in order to have a good view of the road around them. Failure to do so can come with a $109 fine. It will also help you from becoming a meme on social media.

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  • Check your fluids — A properly topped-up reservoir of antifreeze wiper fluid will save your bacon if the snow really starts coming down.
  • Have an exit plan — Snow coming down heavy while you’re at work? If you can manage it, pop out to your vehicle every few hours and clear the snow off it. If you’re able, start the car and move back and forth a few feet to create tracks for your wheels.  You’ll be glad you did when it’s time to clock out.
  • Wipers up — After you park, flip your wipers up in the air. This will keep them free and clear, and prevent them from freezing to your windshield, where they could be damaged.