News Release: Winter driving doubles risk of workers being in a crash

For Immediate Release

Shift into Winter campaign reminds B.C. employers to be prepared and plan ahead to keep employees safe when they drive on the job

Winter driving increases the risk of being in a work-related motor vehicle crash in B.C. To help reduce the risk for employees who drive on the job, the Shift into Winter campaign launches province-wide today to remind employers and supervisors to be prepared and plan ahead.

“Work-related driving in winter is dangerous in B.C., regardless of how much or how little employees drive,” Louise Yako, spokesperson for the 13th annual campaign.

The risk of being in a workplace motor vehicle crash increases by 27 per cent during November through January in B.C. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of workplace traumatic deaths in the province.

“Crashes are preventable,” Yako says. “Employers need to prepare now for winter and plan ahead by reviewing, updating, and implementing their safe winter driving policies and practices to keep workers safe on the road.”

In B.C., rain, fog, snow, and ice can make winter driving dangerous. “Even the most experienced work drivers are challenged by cold temperatures, slippery roads, and reduced visibility,” she says. “Conditions can change quickly and push driving skills to the limit.”

Employers and supervisors have a legal responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their employees when they are driving for work — regardless of whether staff drive a company-owned or personal vehicle.

“Preventing work-related vehicle crashes is smart business,” says Yako. “It directly benefits the employer, especially as businesses recover from the pandemic.” Improved winter driving safety practices can help reduce insurance and repair costs, and attract and retain employees by showing that their well-being is valued. “The best reason is to prevent the immeasurable personal and societal costs of crashes,” she adds.

High-risk occupations for winter driving include: transport trucking; delivery and courier services; bus drivers, and other transit operators; and community health support services.

Shift into Winter’s launch coincides with the law requiring all vehicles driving on designated highways in B.C. to have four matching winter tires (3-peaked mountain and snowflake, or mud and snow) with at least 3.5 mm of tread depth starting on October 1.

The campaign is designed to raise awareness of the changing weather and driving conditions across B.C. and to remind drivers and employers to be prepared and plan ahead. It’s a joint provincial initiative supported by the Winter Driving Safety Alliance and managed by Road Safety at Work.

The Alliance suggests the following tips for employers and supervisors to help keep drivers safe on the job:

  • Ensure drivers are aware of the risks they may be exposed to while driving, are trained, and have the equipment and supervision to keep themselves safe.
  • Ask yourself: Does the employee have to drive? Could the business be conducted online or in a different way?
  • Ensure vehicles are properly maintained and winterized, and have winter tires that carry the 3-peaked mountain and snowflake symbol.
  • Make sure drivers know when and how to safely and properly install chains or other approved traction devices.
  • Equip vehicles with a winter driving emergency kit.

Visit ShiftIntoWinter.ca for free information and tools for employers and supervisors, including the regulations they need to follow. You can:

Tires, chains required as of October 1

Winter tires or chains are required on all vehicles on most designated highways in B.C. from October 1 to March 31. For select highways, including mountain passes and rural routes in high snowfall areas, the date is extended until April 30 to account for early spring snowfall. These highways are marked with regulatory signs.

Non-compliant drivers may be turned away and be subject to a fine. Employers and supervisors can find more information on DriveBC.ca.

Quotes

Al Johnson, Head of Prevention Services, WorkSafeBC:

“Even the most experienced drivers are at risk when weather conditions change. On average, more than 20 workers are killed and another 1,500 are injured each year due to work-related motor vehicle incidents—with the majority occurring in winter. We want to remind employers and supervisors of their responsibility for the safety of all workers who drive as part of their jobs—whether they are in a company vehicle or their own.”

The Hon. Harry Bain, Minister of Labour:

“Winter conditions can be hazardous and challenging for everyone on B.C.’s roads, including those who drive as part of their work. I urge all employers to ensure the health and safety of their employees, including when they are out on the road. Let’s all be vigilant when it comes to mobile working so all workers get home safe at the end of their shift.”

The Hon. Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure:

“Winter weather on B.C.’s highways can turn from favourable to dangerous at a moment’s notice and the best defence is being prepared for icy and snowy conditions. I encourage all drivers and employers to follow the Shift into Winter campaign’s helpful tips to ensure everyone reaches their destination safely.”

Mike Butcher, regional director for urban retail stores, Kal Tire:

“Three-peaked mountain and snowflake winter tires offer better traction, cornering and braking and are a much safer option for those who drive in B.C. in colder temperatures.”

About the Winter Driving Safety Alliance 

The Winter Driving Safety Alliance is a cross-section of more than 21 public, private, and non-profit organizations committed to working together to improve safe winter driving behaviours and practices in B.C. Members are: Ambulance Paramedics of BC; Automotive Retailers Association; BCAA; BC Forest Safety Council; BC Road Builders & Heavy Construction Association; BC Trucking Association; Concrete BC; CoreCode Safety and Compliance; Government of BC; Insurance Corporation of BC; Island Equipment Owners Association; Justice Institute of British Columbia; Kal Tire; Mainroad; RCMP; Road Safety at Work; SafetyDriven; Tiger Calcium; Tire and Rubber Association of Canada; Wilson M Beck Insurance Group; and WorkSafeBC.

About Road Safety at Work

Road Safety at Work manages the Shift into Winter campaign as part of its mandate to help B.C. employers improve the safety of workers when they drive for work. It provides free tools and information for employers, supervisors, and drivers at RoadSafetyAtWork.ca.

Media contact

Gord Woodward
Communications manager
Road Safety at Work
250-734-3652
gord.woodward@roadsafetyatwork.ca

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