Flash Freeze! Snowbirds Driving South & Holiday Plans!

Written by Michael Henry

Whether we like it or not, winter is coming. As Canadians, we continuously deal with the annual winter season and the cold, snow, and ice that come along with it. The change in weather brings new driving conditions and your vehicle will handle differently in these conditions. Your approach to driving needs to change. Your ability to drive safely will be greatly improved by preparing your vehicle for winter road conditions and following safe driving practices. Throw in the complexities of driving south (as most snowbirds do) and expect some white-knuckle experiences. 

First, we need to prepare our vehicles for the snow and ice. As most Canadians and northern US residents know, taking your car or truck to a licensed automotive service technician to perform a seasonal maintenance check-up is a gimme.

Winter tires are essential for the winter season, and most insurers will give you a 10% reduction in premiums if you put them on.  Furthermore, whichever way you travel south, you will have to go up, down, or through various mountain ranges. All-season tires are good, but they do not perform as well as snow tires in snow, ice, and cold. This is not necessarily the best look, but it is the safest. Keep your snow tires on, all the way to your nice sunny, warm destination.  One snowbird commented on pulling his car into the Palm Beach Yacht Club. The valet quickly smiled and said, “you must be a Canadian. I can tell by the tires.”  

When you do hit the road, use common sense. The weather warnings for the 2022 holiday season are calling for flash freezes and lots of snow in the northern areas, with the polar vertex extending as far as Jacksonville, Florida.  

Observe these safety tips when driving south:

  • Check weather conditions before you head out. Ensure that you are dressed properly for the weather in the event your vehicle breaks down or you get caught in a weather jam.
  • When planning your departure time, take into consideration slower traffic speeds due to adverse weather conditions. Leave early. Do not rush.
  • In reduced visibility, slow down and drive with greater caution.
  • Don’t leave your cell phone or other electronic devices in your car overnight. Electronic device batteries quickly dissipate in frigid conditions. You will be especially grateful for a fully charged phone in the event of an emergency.
  • Do not drive with icy windows. Always clear ice from your vehicle’s windows and snow from the entire car so that it does not fly off while driving and create a hazard for other drivers.
  • It is always a good idea to have a safety kit in your car. We recommend keeping basic winter tools in your trunk, such as:
    • foldable winter shovel
    • snow brush
    • ice scraper
    • booster cables
    • warning lights (flares)
    • extra windshield wiper fluid
    • a flashlight
    • blanket
    • extra hats and gloves
    • a few snacks are also a worthwhile addition to your kit.
  • Stay alert at all times. Black ice is potentially everywhere especially on bridges and up and down mountain paths.
  • Yes – keep your snow tires on – all the way.  Losing a little tread or using up a little more fuel is no big deal.  
  • Lastly, slow down and be extra cautious.

Michael Henry is one of the founding partners of Howie, Sacks & Henry. He practices personal injury law, with an emphasis on motor vehicle accident claims, as well as claims related to motorcycle accidents, boating accidents, recreation/sports injuries, and more. If you or someone you love has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, please contact Michael Henry at 416-361-0998 or mjhenry@hshlawyers.com


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