• Pete

Driving in Adverse Conditions

Updated: 1 day ago

Adverse Conditions

The east coast of Canada has been experiencing a dramatic increase in severe weather events since 2021. Numerous factors are contributing to this shift in our climate but I’d like to point out another aspect to consider here; Driving in these conditions.

Powerful Nor'easter Winter Storm Slams Nova Scotia

It’s better to stay at 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 with 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 they can produce, and will always help you make better decisions.

Severe Storm Aftermath At Queensland Beach

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. This will be an extremely dangerous situation. If this happens at night the situation will be even more dangerous. Traffic lights in Nova Scotia do not have backup lighting or any kind of reflective markings that could help make them visible to drivers as they approach the intersection. So unless you are familiar with an area and know where the traffic lights are, you will be less likely to see the intersection in time to stop.

Lights-out at Intersections; these situations call for extreme caution

Lights Out At Intersections; Stay frosty


Tires are the most important part of your vehicle

Some things to consider before hitting the road in Nova Scotia – What condition are your tires in? All tires have wear indicators built into the tread. If the tire tread is flush or near the wear indicator, then you will want to have a trusted mechanic look at it to be sure of its condition. Generally 5/32’s is the minimum tread depth that is passable for MVI’s.

Like hockey skates or football cleats, the tires on your vehicle are what give you traction on the road. Tires are the single most important component of your vehicle.

CNET On Cars – Car Tech 101​: How tires work

Top 3 overlooked deadly factors that may get you killed


Tips for driving in the rain

  • Reduce speed and increase following distance (Literally the secret to almost everything in driving).

  • 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 causing the vehicle to keep accelerating. That is the last thing you want if you are hydroplaning. Always let up off the accelerator pedal.

Driving In Hurricanes

Below is a video of the weather-bomb storm that hit Dartmouth in late 2017. This location is where the old Imperial Oil refinery was. This was the first major storm since the refinery had been torn down and there was one factor no one seemed to consider before tearing it all down, the wind. The refinery acted as a shield from the strong winds of the Atlantic Ocean for years and once it was removed there was no shield to protect the area, so Mother Nature did her thing.

The Aftermath Of The Christmas Day 2017 Storm In Nova Scotia


Hydroplaning happens when the tires on your vehicle lose their grip and instead travel on water sitting on top of the road. Hydroplaning eliminates a driver’s ability to steer and brake. Hydroplaning is most likely to happen when there is standing water on the road. If you’re driving too fast, your car can’t move the water out of the way fast enough.

Hydroplaning in Iceland

Aston Martin Valkrie Wet Test

How To Drive In Heavy Rain And Not Hydroplane

Some things to consider before hitting the road in Nova Scotia

Are you familiar with your vehicle’s controls, such as the windshield wipers and heater controls? These two features will save your life, especially at highway speeds. Anyone driving in adverse conditions needs to know where these controls are without having to look at them.

How To Drive In Heavy Rain And Not Hydroplane

The ability to see clearly through your vehicle’s windshield is something many of us take for granted. But it only takes a couple of seconds for a big splash of water or slush to cover the windshield, causing you to be unable to see or navigate while driving.

Not being able to steer would be a pretty scary thing to have happen, but imagine not being able to see. You can’t effectively steer, brake, stop or anything else if you can’t see through your windshield. Many beginner drivers are nervous about operating the windshield wipers but it’s something that everyone must learn to do. Memorizing your heater controls is another essential skill for driving in bad conditions.

A simple splash of a puddle from a passing vehicle can blind you instantly. From the moment your vision is obscured to when you can reach the windshield wiper controls is the critical time to react. Being able to reach the wiper and heater controls without looking is essential and if it doesn’t save your life, it will at least save you some trouble in that split second.

Get comfortable in uncomfortable situations; Learn to drive in all types of conditions

Is it dangerous to drive in these conditions? Of course it is, but that’s why we make adjustments to the various factors and hazards in the driving environment to mitigate those dangers. When you are familiar with these conditions you become more comfortable in them and when you are comfortable you will always make better decisions.

A Driving Lesson In The Rain


When an accident happens, the police investigate the various factors that caused it. Always make minor adjustments to factors like, speed, steering, and braking by being even more gradual than normal. These adjustments will add up to a whole lot safer of a drive.

Driving Is Like The Movie Final Destination; Expect Anything

  • Ensure that you have adequate heat on the windshield to prevent fogging.

  • Eliminate as many distractions as possible so you can focus on driving.

  • Don’t use your high beam headlights as they are useless in wet conditions.

  • Think ahead and see potential hazards well in advance so you can react in time.

  • The most important tip is to slow down and stay calm.

  • Always operate both gas and brake pedals gradually and gently.


Fog - Driving in the fog can be hazardous. If you are caught 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 take the old trunk route instead. It doesn’t matter how good of a driver you are, if you can’t see anything you can’t react to anything.

Driving In Fog


Another critical aspect of this new driving environment to consider is poise and confidence. These are the two single most important things to have when you find yourself in a challenging driving situation. The tires can be new and the vehicle can have 4-wheel drive, but if the operator isn’t smooth and confident, it will have little effect on the outcome of a dangerous driving situation. There’s no better time to get a little practice driving in these conditions. Find a quiet side street or industrial park and just go slow and get a feel for the road.

Driving The Hiking Trail Road

De-icing windows

Let the vehicle warm up and blast warm air on the windows before trying to open them. If you open them while they are frozen you will break the window regulator.

It’s illegal to deposit snow on the roadway.

The most common place to see flying ice will be at highway merges after a vehicle covered in ice accelerates up to highway speed for the first time after the storm. Also, anywhere there is a bump like a pothole or overpass is where snow and ice will fall from vehicles.

Flying ice on Highway 103 in Nova Scotia

Ice sheet flew off tractor trailer

Uphill battle in the snow

How to Handle Skids

When you skid, avoid the urge to hit the brakes. Always ease your foot off the pedal (s) when you feel the car is starting to slip. Always look where you want to go, not where the car is heading at that precise moment. Let your peripheral vision take care of whatever you’re trying to avoid. You almost always end up where you are looking.

When your tires start to slip, you will 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 also when the computer is compensating by limiting power to certain wheels.

Spinout on highway 118 in Halifax Nova Scotia

Tesla drifting on icetrack

Driving Windmill Road in a blizzard

The most important aspect of what we have done here is, we have taken this mitigated risk of driving down the steepest hill in Halifax – in the snow – and by taking that risk we now have a student driver who is that much more experienced at driving in these challenging conditions. Now they have somewhat of a comfort level with these conditions, so when they are out driving by themselves and come across a similar situation, they will be comfortable which means they will be confident which means they will ALWAYS make a better choice when deciding how to react to a hazard.

A driving lesson on the steepest hill in Halifax

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

In this lesson the student catches the shoulder at highway speed in the snow and recovers like a boss. They gradually steer the car back onto the road while holding the wheel straight and NOT hitting the brake pedal. This was a fun lesson.

A Driving Lesson In The Snow

We slip, we slide, we recover, then we keep driving.

How To Drive In The Snow

Driving in 2016 Blizzard Halifax Nova Scotia

Black Ice

How To Drive On Black Ice

Driving on black ice is like playing a game of Russian Roulette. The surface of the road will usually look clear, almost as if it’s just rain, but don’t get comfortable. That is the trick to driving on black ice. Never get comfortable, because the second you do, that is when black ice will show itself. You might drive 20 kilometers and not sense any slippage on the road surface but all it takes is one small patch of black ice to send you sliding into a spin.

Black Ice; You'll never see it coming

Collision Compilation

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