14 tips for driving on ice, slush and snow in Vancouver

Dec 6 2016, 5:45 pm

On a day as beautiful as today, it can be easy to avert your eyes from the road and admire the mountains bathed in white and pink, dappled in winter sunshine.

But it’s important to remember the roads are pretty damn hazardous, with the potential for black ice and slush after Monday’s snow.

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Maybe you could walk, maybe you could take a bus, maybe you could work from home. But driving may be your only option.

So here are some tips from ICBC on how to drive on the ice. Safe driving!


  • What is it? Hydroplaning happens when you lose control of steering and braking because your car’s tires lose contact with the road and float on a film of water. It can happen in rain or standing water. The faster you’re going, the more chance you have of hydroplaning.
  • How to avoid it? Prevent hydroplaning by scanning ahead for large puddles and reducing your speed, especially during heavy rain. If hydroplaning happens, don’t brake — decelerate and drive straight.

Black ice

  • What is it? It is often impossible to spot black ice, which forms on relatively dry roads when water just below the surface freezes and expands, becoming an invisible, clear sheet of ice. Black ice often forms as snow begins to melt during warmer hours in shaded areas. It can cause your tires to lose grip on the road and skid.
  • What to do? If you drive over black ice and your car starts to skid, decelerate and look and steer smoothly where you want to go. Don’t over-steer or brake, this could make it worse. Repeat until you regain control.

More winter driving tips:

  • Consider carpooling – Maybe carpool with a friend whose car is prepared and is a confident driver, or at least wait until the road conditions have improved.
  • Prep your car – Use winter tires or chains for snow and ice, and check conditions for your whole route on Drive BC before heading out. Here’s how to install snow chains:

  • Do a pre-trip check – Check your tire pressure, which drops fast in the cold. Keep the gas tank at least half-full to avoid freezing, and top up your windshield wiper fluid.
  • Pack an emergency kit – Use an emergency kit for items like blankets and food, in case you get stranded or stuck and have to wait for roadside assistance.
  • Clear snow off your car – Clear any snow off the car’s roof, headlights and wheel wells. If not, this can affect your ability to see and steer when it melts or falls off later.
  • Drive slow and steady – Avoid sudden movements. Accelerate gently, steer and turn gradually, and brake slowly and early. Plan turns, stops and lane changes early.
  • Lights and brakes – Use low beam lights and don’t use cruise control. For standard brakes, pump them gently, for ABS, apply steady pressure.
  • Dealing with slush – Watch out for ridges of slush that can build up between lanes. Change lanes in the least slushy spot, signal well ahead of time and move slowly.
  • Highway maintenance vehicles – Use extreme caution around highway maintenance vehicles, including plows, salt and sand trucks. Never pass on the right.
  • Have an emergency plan – If you get stuck, stay calm and with your car for safety. If it’s an emergency, call 911. Otherwise, call for roadside assistance.
DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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