Ensuring Safety all Winter Long with SWS

Multiple cars on three lane road in snowy weather

Winter can be an especially dangerous time to be on the road. Increased snow, ice and cold temperatures can put your vehicle at risk for accidents or mechanical issues. For this reason, it’s important for fleets with heavy equipment or vehicles that frequently travel in the winter to keep their vehicles safe and ready for winter driving conditions – and SWS Warning Lights make it easy!

In today’s blog, we’ll explore several ways construction and heavy vehicle fleets can stay safe this winter season.

Driving in the Winter: here’s what the numbers say

According to AccuWeather, there are roughly 156,000 car accidents during the winter season. Of those collisions, 76,000 people will be injured, and 1,300 will lose their lives.

Although some of these collisions may occur during heavy amounts of snow, it’s not a requirement. In fact, heavy vehicles can spin out in as little as 1 cm of snow.

Prepare your construction and heavy-duty vehicle fleets for the risky winter weather ahead with these tips:

15 Winter driving tips for heavy vehicles

Install winter tires 

If your construction or heavy vehicle fleet has yet to install winter tires, it’s not too late.

Winter tires are designed to perform optimally in ice, snow, slush, and cold temperatures (7 C or lower). Outfitted with a single-directional tread pattern, winter tires provide excellent traction and braking. In fact, on snow, ice or cold pavement, the stopping distance of a vehicle with snow tires can be up to 40 percent shorter than one with all-seasons.

Don’t put your fleet at risk, maximize the handling of your vehicles with winter tires.

Inspect Vehicle

Before heading out on the road, it’s important to ensure your vehicles are in good working order and ready to handle the vast array of winter conditions. Skipping this step can put yourself and others on the road at significant risk.

Consider adding the following to your daily inspection checklist this winter: 

Inspect your:

  • Tires: Tire defects are responsible for almost a third of all truck-related crashes. Check for wear, pressure, and balance. Also, make sure the spare tire has enough air and is in good condition.
  • Wiper Blades: Make sure wiper blades are clear of any snow, ice, or debris, and are in good working order.
  • Battery: Freezing temperatures slow the chemical reactions that occur in a vehicle’s battery. As a result, battery power drops significantly in the winter. To ensure drivers have enough of a charge while out on their routes, have your batteries tested and replace any old or weak batteries.
  • Fluid levels: Check engine oil, antifreeze levels, and wiper fluid.
  • Exhaust pipe: Ensure the exhaust pipe is clear of any snow that may have built up.
  • Lights: Confirm all lights are working properly. This includes headlights (low beams and high beams), brake lights, tail lights, and signal lights. 

Clean all lights 

In addition to ensuring all vehicle lights work properly, you should also make sure they are free of any dirt, slush, or snow.

Drivers should check their vehicle’s headlights, brake lights, taillights, and signal lights before each shift. Their safety as well as the well-being of others on the road depends on it. 

Keep fuel tank full 

When it comes to winter weather, you can never be too sure. It’s best to err on the side of caution and keep your vehicle’s gas tank at least half-full. Not only does this prevent you from running out of gas and becoming stranded on an exceptionally cold day, but it also prevents condensation from forming in the empty part of your gas tank and freezing, icing your fuel lines, and causing no-start conditions.

Slow down 

Winter roads are often filled with snow and ice, giving way to dangerous conditions. Slow down and adjust your speed accordingly.

In addition to slowing down, motorists should also avoid cruise control on these risk-filled roads. Relying on cruise control can create a disconnect between the driver and the road, preventing them from feeling any loss of traction. 

Leave extra space

One’s braking ability becomes severely impaired during winter conditions. Research indicates that it may take drivers up to 10 times longer to stop when driving on snow-filled roads. Establishing enough distance between you and the car in front of you is vital.

To avoid accidents, we suggest leaving enough space for at least three vehicles between you and the car in front. This will provide you with enough room to maneuver your vehicle in the event that you start to slide. 

Keep an emergency kit 

Keeping a stocked emergency kit in your construction or heavy-duty commercial vehicle can make all the difference in an emergency. We recommend keeping the following in your emergency kit:

  • Food and water
  • Flashlight or headlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Cell phone charger
  • Washer fluid
  • Shovel
  • Traction mats or other traction devices like a bag of sand
  • Power bank portable charger
  • Ice scraper
  • Jumper cables
  • High visibility jacket
  • Winter gloves
  • Blanket
  • Extra warm clothes
  • Matches 

Pull over and wait it out 

If road conditions appear too hazardous, don’t risk it. When driving is no longer possible, find a safe place to pull over, like a gas station or a rest stop. 

Avoid sudden actions 

In addition to leaving a safe distance between vehicles, it’s also important to practice smooth driving during the winter months. Actions like braking, accelerating, and steering should be done gently and with attention. There should be no sudden movements or jerking.

Hard acceleration, hard braking, and sharp turns can each decrease the vehicle’s traction. Make sure to keep a consistent speed and take it easy on the brakes.

Be mindful of hazards 

While driving in the winter may be a hazard itself, there are some specific dangers you should be on the watch for: 

Black ice

According to Transport Canada, black ice can be present on roads with temperatures between 4 C and -4 C. It can also be found on roads, bridges, and overpasses long after sunrise.

Here are some common signs of black ice to be on the lookout for:

  • Spray from tires on the vehicles in front of you. If the spray stops, be aware of the potential of black ice.
  • A build-up of ice on your truck mirror arms, antennae, or the top corners of the windshield. 


Did you know that elevated structures, like bridges, typically freeze first? The cold air underneath them causes the surface moisture to freeze.

However, despite being one of the first structures to freeze, they aren’t always treated with salt. It’s important to approach these areas carefully to avoid spinning out or losing control.    

Heavy precipitation 

One of the biggest issues for drivers in the winter is visibility. If you’re struggling to see the road ahead due to heavy snow, take caution and slow down. Keep a safe distance between you and the vehicles in front.

Heavy precipitation and slush can also increase the risk of hydroplaning. This is when tires lose traction and the driver’s ability to steer, and brake is greatly reduced. If your vehicle starts hydroplaning, it’s important to remain calm, hold the steering wheel straight, gently ease off the gas and avoid hitting the brakes until you regain control.

Turn on headlights in fog 

Fog can greatly reduce visibility. If your commercial vehicle doesn’t have automatic headlight sensors, drivers should be instructed to manually switch on their headlights in addition to their usual daytime lights. This will provide drivers with greater visibility and ensure they are seen by others.

Use your turn signals 

Communicating with other drivers on the road can be difficult when snow is pelting down from the sky. Giving pedestrians and other drivers extra time to notice and respond to your signal can help. This winter, consider using four or five blinks before slowly switching lanes. 

Be careful when entering and leaving your truck 

Being careful when entering and exiting your commercial vehicle may sound obvious, but accidents happen. Take your time and wear boots with a strong grip to reduce your chance of slipping. 

Make sure you’re visible if you stop 

If you have to pull over on the side of the road, it’s imperative that you and your vehicle can be seen by other motorists. Activate your four-way flashers, place warning lights on your truck, or set up reflective cones behind your vehicle. Also, remember to always wear high-visibility safety apparel when outside of your vehicle to alert other drivers of your presence. 

Install SWS Warning Lights 

As you can see, adverse weather conditions and reduced daylight hours can pose several additional risks. Protect road workers and users by improving the visibility of your commercial vehicles in low-light conditions with SWS Warning Lights.

Without proper lighting measures in place, the stopping sight distance of approaching motorists will only continue to decrease. This means drivers will take longer to react to potential dangers, providing them with less time to take affirmative action. To solve this problem, our warning lights provide pedestrians and motorists with a long-distance warning of what’s ahead.

How SWS can keep your fleet safe all winter long

At SWS we are unwavering in our commitment to providing the best quality professional-grade warning lights for construction and heavy-duty vehicle fleets. We offer a vast selection of handcrafted warning lights that can help increase your fleet’s level of safety while on the road this winter. Get to know a bit about each of them below: 

LED Beacon Lights 

You can count on our LED beacon lights to warn pedestrians and other motorists of your construction and heavy-duty vehicle fleet.

Each of our LED beacon lights ensures your workers and equipment are visible, even in whiteout conditions. Keep your team safe every season by investing in our durable, dependable, advanced LED Beacon lights. 

Learn more about them here. 

Traffic Arrows

Construction crew safety is a must in every season. Our traffic arrows provide a simple and effective way to alert road users of working vehicles and approaching road hazards.

The round modular head employs a dual optic with nine flood-style optics for maximum viewing angle and three narrow beam optics to maximize the projection distance.

Learn more about our traffic arrows here. 


Whether you choose one of our low-profile minibars or dual-colour minibars, you can rest assured that they will keep your workers and vehicles safe while on the road. Each of our minibars provides an excellent warning system with bright light output and several flash patterns and colour options.

Learn more about our selection of professional-grade minibars here. 

Experience why we're North America's go-to source for warning lights

SWS Warning Lights makes it easy to warn other drivers of work zones and help construction and heavy vehicle fleets stay safe this winter. We offer a wide selection of handcrafted, high-quality safety lights, offered in a variety of colours, configurations, and sizes so you can find the perfect fit for your specific needs and budget.

Each of our products is Canadian-designed and Canadian-made with unparalleled attention to detail. We always use rugged, durable components and materials in our warning lights to ensure maximum performance.


Contact us today with your requirements to get started.