Shift Into Winter Driving Mode
Prince George, B.C.- Don’t let the rain fool you, winter is on its way, and we could see temperatures dip well below the freezing mark at any time, or the landscape covered in a blanket of snow.
(at right, commercial vehicle in the ditch-image courtesy Road Safety at Work ).
While it is the law in B.C. that you must switch to winter tires October 1st if you are planning on driving on certain highways ( 16 and 97 included) there are other things that should be done if you haven’t done them already says Mark Ordeman, Manager of Industry and Labour Services Transportation with WorkSafeBC.
Winter is an annual event, yet so many drivers seem to be caught off guard, Ordeman says that may be a result of our busy lives “Winter shows up differently every year in terms of the day we see our first snow, or our first freezing of the roadway, and we all have busy lives, so I think that would be part of it, with so much going on, and never knowing exactly the day the weather will turn, its easy for winter to sneak up on you.”
Make no mistake, when winter arrives, there is a significant increase in the number of injury causing crashes on B.C. roads. “We look at the last five years, 2010 to 2014 and we average the number of casualty crashes ( fatalities or injuries) that involve driving too fast for conditions and we see, when we look at October, the average is 114 casualty crashes, and by December we’re looking at 222, so there’s a real change in the number of crashes that occur because of driving too fast for conditions.” In the North Central region the number is around 18 in October, and jumps to 44 in December.
There are some simple tips that all drivers can follow regardless of the reason they are behind the wheel in the first place.
- Know before you go, do you really need to make the trip? check the conditions on the route of travel and if conditions are not favourable, you may have to change the route
- Prepare yourself, leave lots of time for your journey otherwise you may drive too fast for conditions and end up in trouble
- Dress appropriately, wearing the right clothing, or at the very least having proper winter clothing in the vehicle, will save you from freezing to death while you wait for help should your vehicle break down or slide off the road
- Make sure your vehicle is ready that means winter tires, all hoses and battery are in good condition, fluids topped up, brake lights and brakes operating properly
- Have a winter survival kit in your vehicle. flashlight, extra clothing, maybe some sand bags for extra traction
Ordeman says one commonly held belief is that if your vehicle is a 4×4 “you’re good to go”, but that’s a myth “If you don’t have proper winter tires that vehicle is not going to do you any good, it’s going to be just as prone to getting stuck and going off the road as any vehicle without winter tires. Really, winter tires are one of the best things people can do for themselves to deal with winter conditions.”
The Road Safety at Work program has been in place since 2009 and Ordeman says it is encouraging to see there have been improvements “We see drivers recognizing the need to adjust their driving and prepare their vehicles for winter weather. Year over year we see a change and improvement so the message is getting across, and we’re just going to keep on giving it until 100% of this province keeps it in mind when the month turns over to October.”
There is a website ( www.shiftintowinter.ca ) which has a number of tips and resources for those who must be behind the wheel during the winter.