7 tips to travel safely in Calgary's record-low temperatures

Jan 13 2020, 12:44 pm

Calgary’s going to see temperatures as low as -15°C this month! 

While we’re pretty used to the cold and the snowpocalypse, it never hurts to get a reminder on how to stay safe and warm in this kind of weather. 

Not only do you need to be safe and warm, so does your car. Winter can mean CTrain and transit delays that leave you with no choice but to drive. It can also mean holiday travel to see family and friends. 

Here are seven tips to keep you safe and warm when the temperatures drop, no matter where the season takes you.

Take your time

Ice scraper/Shutterstock

Winter isn’t the time to leave the house five minutes before you have to be somewhere. Give yourself some time to do a pre-trip check and scrape the ice and sweep the snow off your vehicle. You’ll also want to drive slower than you normally would — posted speed limits are for ideal weather conditions. So, slow down in the snow.

Check those levels

Keep this checklist handy. Make sure your car always has at least a half-tank of gas in it. While you’re at the gas station, top up your windshield wiper fluid and make sure your tires have enough air in them — pressure often drops with the temperature. Not only should you check your vehicle’s levels, but don’t leave your house without a fully-charged cell phone. No one wants to run out of juice while making an emergency call!

Check road conditions

Road trip/Shutterstock

If you know how bad the conditions are, you’ll be able to plan either an alternate route or determine how much extra time you’ll need to reach your destination. For long journeys, check things out the night before to keep up to date with any road closures or accidents. While you’re at it, check the weather too. Calgary is a city where winter conditions can change in a minute.

Space it out

When stopping seems sketchy, make sure to leave extra space between you and the car in front of you. In good conditions, it’s recommended you leave three seconds between your car and the one you’re following. When the roads are snow-covered or icy, double your distance to make sure you can stop effectively. 

Ditch the all-seasons

Snow tire tracks/Shutterstock

Even in a big city like Calgary, winter driving conditions hit hard! And all-season tires aren’t designed to perform well in those conditions.

It isn’t the snow on the road that makes the difference — it’s the temperature. Follow the 7C Principle – once the temperature hits 7C or below, it’s time to switch to winter tires. Transport Canada says that all-season and summer tires begin to lose elasticity at temperatures below 7C. That means reduced traction, so reduce your chances of slipping and sliding by making sure your car has winter tires! 

Sweep that snow

Don’t be the person everyone hates driving behind. Fully clear your car of the fluffy stuff before heading out on the road. Not only is your own view dangerously obstructed by a snowman on the windshield, but the cars around you will have reduced vision because of your blowing snow. Make sure to scrape off any ice or frost that could obstruct your view while you’re at it.

Come (and go) prepared

Emergency tools/Shutterstock

Everyone knows the snow is eventually going to come to Calgary, but sometimes it just sneaks up on you. That’s why you should be prepared for winter driving as soon as you feel a chill in the air. Keep an emergency kit in your car, stocked with blankets and some snacks in case you get stranded and need to wait for assistance. A flashlight and an extra pair of gloves can’t hurt either!

It goes without saying, but you should have your winter tires on BEFORE the white stuff comes down. But, life happens. Left it until the last minute? Mr. Lube offers same-day service without an appointment, so you can get your winter drive on as soon as you need it.

When the city becomes a winter wonderland, it’s a royal pain to wait a week for a tire change. While waiting until the last minute is stressful, Mr. Lube has you covered. They’re open seven days a week and with nine flagship locations in Calgary, there’s a good chance you live or work within a 10-minute drive of a Mr. Lube location.