Don’t let winter road conditions catch you by surprise

Stay safe and shift into winter

Burnaby, BC / November 1, 2012 – This winter don’t get caught out on the road unprepared. Whether you use your vehicle for work or leisure, take steps to reduce your risk of a crash on winter roads.

WorkSafeBC, BCAA Road Safety Foundation, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, BC Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association, and the other members of the Winter Driving Safety Alliance have a few tips:

  • Don’t Know? Don’t Go. First, check your local traffic and weather report or visit DriveBC.ca before heading out. Avoid driving if the weather is bad, even an hour or two can make a big difference. If you can, wait until the weather improves. If you don’t have to go, then don’t drive.
  • Install four matched winter tires. Winter tires provide better stopping power and traction in cold weather and snow. Check for wear before mounting and check tire pressure every few weeks.
  • Equip your vehicle with emergency gear in case you become stranded. Carry a windshield scraper and snow brush, extra windshield washer fluid, flares and matches or a lighter, tire chains and gloves, a first aid kit, a shovel and a traction mat, sand or cat litter, a flashlight and extra batteries, battery jumper cables, a spare tire, a wheel wrench and jack, and extra clothing and footwear.
  • Slow down and drive for the conditions. The posted speed is the maximum speed under ideal conditions. In winter, it is safer to drive below the posted limit. In 2010, there were 44 fatalities where driving too fast for the conditions was a contributing factor (source: ICBC Quick Statistics April 2012). The risk of vehicle incident is higher during winter months.

“Whether you’re driving across town, or across the province, it’s important that you and your vehicle are prepared for winter conditions,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Mary Polak. “Winter weather is unpredictable, particularly in our mountain passes, so I encourage all motorists to check our DriveBC website for real-time road and weather conditions before setting out.”

“As a northerner, I am acutely aware of the importance of traction, distance between vehicles and adjusting your speed to safe winter driving,” said Shirley Bond, Minister of Justice and Attorney General. “But don’t wait until the snow arrives. Wherever you live in B.C., it’s important to prepare now for frost, ice and even heavy rain, and to always drive with the prevailing conditions in mind.”

Whether driving for either pleasure or for work, and regardless of vehicle use, everyone is encouraged to drive safely.

“Many businesses in B.C. are relying exclusively on vehicles owned by their employees, or use a combination of commercial vehicles and worker-owned vehicles,” stated Mark Ordeman, Manager, Industry and Labour Services Transportation at WorkSafeBC. “It is important for this segment of the driving population to maintain their vehicles and exercise safe driving practice regardless if they are driving for work or personal use.” 60% of small businesses and 47% of medium sized businesses in B.C. rely on worker-owned vehicles.

According to the BCAA Road Safety Foundation, the number of calls to BCAA for roadside assistance typically increases up to 25 per cent during the rainy, snowy winter months. Problems with tires are common as motorists drive over more potholes which can create a bulge in a tire, break or bend wheel or suspension components and/or cause a flat to occur. A bulge in a tire is also a safety hazard that should be addressed immediately.

Some of these situations can be avoided if drivers are prepared for driving in winter weather conditions. The Foundation also recommends carrying a winter roadside emergency kit in case you do find yourself stranded.

If you have to drive, be smart. Check the conditions, make sure your vehicle is winterized, drive for the conditions and give yourself extra time, and carry an emergency survival kit.

Download the following websites to your phone or bookmark them on your web browser and check them often:

  • DriveBC.ca is a good source of current road and travel conditions
  • ShiftIntoWinter.ca has tips on how to prepare yourself and your vehicle, and how to drive safely on winter roads.

The Winter Driving Safety Alliance is a joint provincial initiative comprised of organizations committed to improving the safety of drivers during the winter months. They are BCAA Road Safety Foundation, BC Forest Safety Council, BC Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association, BC Trucking Association, Insurance Corporation of BC, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Pacific Coach Lines, RCMP, the Trucking Safety Council of BC and WorkSafeBC.

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