12/18/2012 01:35 EST | Updated 02/17/2013 05:12 EST

10 winter driving tips

Winter can make for challenging conditions on the roads. Here's what to do to make your winter driving a safe experience.

1. When winter conditions hit, the safest option is to stay off the road and take public transit if you can.

2. If you must drive, plan ahead by checking road conditions at and giving yourself lots of extra time. Use main routes that will get salted and cleared first.

3. Use winter tires on all four wheels and make sure they are properly inflated and have good treads.

4. Slow down and leave extra distance between the cars ahead so you can avoid potholes or unexpected stops.

5. Steer gently and avoid sudden braking or acceleration. Gear down when descending hills.

6. Watch out for black ice that can form on shaded areas, bridges, overpasses and intersections.

7. If you start to skid, ease off the gas or brake and steer gently in the direction you want to go. Don't brake suddenly – it could make the situation worse.

8. Be extremely cautious when approaching snowplows and sanding trucks and avoid overtaking them if possible. These vehicles throw up snow and spray, making it difficult to see, and rocks and sand that can damage your vehicle.

9. If you are planning on driving over mountain passes, carry chains, blankets, extra food and water, and a mobile phone and charger.

10. Before you go check your battery, top up your gas and your windshield fluid, ensure all your lights are working and spray lock lubricant in your locks to stop them from freezing up.

If you get in trouble, stay with your vehicle if possible until help arrives. Avoid running down your battery by turning off unnecessary lights, heaters, radios, defrosters and accessories.

(Source: ICBC, BCAA)