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Adverse Conditions

Nova Scotia has been experiencing an increase in severe weather events over the past few years. It's now more important than ever to learn how to drive in these conditions. A new driver may prefer to not drive in bad weather conditions but if they live in Nova Scotia, at some point they'll have to. I recently did a driving lesson in downtown Halifax under clear blue skies, then drove to Upper Sackville. When I arrived 30 minutes later, there were whiteout conditions due to a snow squall. I was not expecting to encounter snow while on my way to Sackville, let alone whiteout conditions, but my experience is what made me confident and that's what kept me safe. Confidence and poise is everything in challenging driving situations.

Powerful Nor'easter Winter Storm Slams Nova Scotia

It’s better to stay home when the weather is bad, but there are times like family emergencies or other circumstances beyond your control where you will have no choice but to drive. It would be better to have some experience driving in these conditions as the stress of an emergency or other pressing circumstances may be too much to handle on its own without the added stress of driving in bad weather. Being experienced at driving in these conditions reduces the anxiety it can produce and that will always help you make better decisions.

Lights Out At Intersections

When traffic lights stop working at intersections they become an all-way stop. Each motorist takes a turn stopping at the stop line, and it’s first come first serve. Situations like this are extremely dangerous, and if this happens at night it will be even more dangerous. Traffic lights in Nova Scotia do not have backup lighting or reflective markings that could help make them visible to drivers as they approach them at night. Unless you are familiar with an area and know where the traffic lights are, you'll be less likely to see the intersection in time to stop.


Tips For Driving In Rain

When driving on the highway in any type of conditions the key is what you don't react to.


  • Reduce your speed and increase your following distance.

  • Drive in the tracks of other vehicles, because they have already cleared some water out of the lane with their tires.

  • Accelerate and brake more gradually.

  • Steer with smooth gentle motions.

  • Don’t use cruise control – If you were to hydroplane, the cruise control system would stay on which can cause the vehicle to keep accelerating. This is because the computer can't spot standing water in front of you.


Hydroplaning is when a vehicle starts sliding uncontrollably due to the tires encountering more water than the treads can displace. When this happens a thin film of water forms between the tire and the road, reducing the traction that keeps the vehicle stable and responsive.



Hydroplaning can be prevented by maintaining proper tire pressure and checking tire tread depth regularly. Always replace your tires when they are worn out or damaged. You should also avoid driving too fast or using cruise control in bad weather, and steer clear of puddles and standing water.



Hydroplaning can be recovered from by staying calm and easing off the accelerator pedal while keeping a firm grip on the steering wheel. Look and steer the vehicle in the direction you want to go. You should avoid braking or turning, as this can make the situation worse. Let the vehicle slow down gradually until you feel your tires regain traction with the road.

This clip is from one of the many driving lessons I've done in heavy rain. It's the student's first time driving in rain. Literally all we are doing here is driving at a reduced speed of 85/kms an hour, and we didn't hydroplane.

A Car Hydroplanes On Highway 111

How To Drive In Heavy Rain

Tips To Avoid Hydroplaning


GoPro captures Audi A4 Allroad Quattro losing control at 140 km/h...


Fog - Driving in the fog can be hazardous. If you are driving in fog reduce your speed and turn on the low beams. Increase your following distance be patient and avoid trying to pass any vehicles. If it gets to hard to see pull over to a gas station or safe area and wait it out for a bit. Instead of taking the main highway you might prefer to take the old trunk route instead as trunk routes run along the main highway. It doesn’t matter how good of a driver you are if you can’t see anything you can’t react to anything.

weather-nature (152).jpeg


Just like in all other types of adverse conditions, the key is to be super gradual with every adjustment you make to the steering wheel and brake/gas pedals when driving in the snow. 2 centimetres of snow is much more dangerous than 20 centimetres because most drivers will be less vigilant. 20 Centimetres of snow actually provides some resistance to your tires which will help you to maintain control of the vehicle, and it will slow down much easier.

Clean The Snow Off Of Your Vehicle Before Driving


The most common place to see flying ice is at highway merges and overpasses, because these are the areas where a vehicle accelerates up to highway speed for the first time after a snow storm. A pothole is another spot where snow and ice will fall from vehicles and collect on the road.

Flying ice on Highway 103 in Nova Scotia

Ice sheet flew off tractor trailer

How To Handle Skids

If you lose control and start sliding, avoid the urge to hit the brakes. Always ease your foot off the accelerator pedal when you feel the car starting to slide. Look where you want to go, not in the direction that the car is sliding to. You'll always end up going in the direction that you are looking.

Traction Control

When your tires start to slip you'll see this light flickering in the dash. It’s your Traction Control light and it’s telling you that your tires are slipping. This is because the computer is compensating by limiting power to certain wheels. Let up off of the accelerator pedal and you'll regain traction.


Spinout on highway 118 in Halifax Nova Scotia


Never hit the brakes if your vehicle starts to slide in the snow. The vehicle in this video wasn't slipping until the driver hit their brakes. Watch the brake lights of the vehicle.

In this lesson the student catches the shoulder of the highway in heavy snow, then recovers like a boss. They gradually steer the car back onto the road while holding the steering wheel steady while also NOT hitting the brake pedal. We slip and slide briefly, then we recover. This was a fun lesson and it made me very proud of the student.

How To Drive In The Snow

Snow Plows

It's best to not pass a plow mostly because they are clearing the road in front of you. It's legal to pass them cautiously but I don't recommend it unless they are driving extremely slowly.

Nova Scotia Snowplows And Their Hotshot Operators

Nova Scotia Plow Tracker

Black Ice

Driving on black ice is like playing Russian Roulette. The surface of the road will usually look clear, almost as if there's just rain on it, but don’t get too comfortable because the second you do that's usually when it will catch you off-guard. You might drive 20 kilometres without your vehicle slipping, but all it takes is one small patch to send you sliding into a spin.


How to correct a slide on an icy road – Winter driving education

Although it's not the best fashion decision, wearing bright colours in adverse conditions will help make you more visible to other drivers in case you have to pull over to the side of the road. Never stop on the side of a highway unless it's a legit emergency.


Why I Love Tires

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