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

For Immediate Release

Shift into Winter campaign reminds B.C. drivers to be prepared and plan ahead for Mother Nature’s ultimate road test

Winter driving can more than double your risk of being in a motor vehicle crash in B.C. To help reduce the risk, the Shift into Winter campaign launches province-wide today to remind drivers to be prepared and plan ahead.

“Winter is Mother Nature’s ultimate road test,” says Louise Yako, spokesperson for the 13th annual campaign. “Winter conditions can change quickly and push our driving skills to the limit.”

Winter roads can be dangerous in B.C. due to rain, fog, snow, and ice. “Even the most experienced drivers are challenged by cold temperatures, slippery roads, and reduced visibility,” Yako says. “We want drivers to shift into winter by preparing for winter driving before winter weather hits. The time to do that is now.”

In B.C., the average number of casualty crashes due to driving too fast for the conditions more than doubles from fall to early winter – to about 220 in December from about 99 in September, according to statistics on crashes reported to police from 2015 to 2019.

Shift into Winter’s launch coincides with the law requiring all vehicles driving on designated highways in B.C. to have 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 offers the following tips for drivers to help them stay safe on the road this winter:

  • Prepare your vehicle by installing a set of four matched winter tires with the 3-peaked mountain and snowflake symbol. “These tires offer the best traction on snow, ice, and in cold weather,” Yako notes.
  • Give your vehicle a pre-winter maintenance check-up every year
  • Carry a winter driving emergency kit
  • Check road conditions on DriveBC.ca before heading out. “Is it safe for you to go?” Yako asks. If possible, postpone your plans and avoid driving when road and weather conditions are poor.
  • Slow down to meet the road conditions. Keep at least 4 seconds between you and the vehicle in front. “Give yourself plenty of room in situations where you may need to brake suddenly,” she says.
  • Prepare yourself by knowing how to drive for the conditions before you get behind the wheel. “You can’t predict how your vehicle, or another driver’s vehicle, will react in snow or on ice,” Yako says. Learn how to brake safely, get out of a skid, and become familiar with how your vehicle handles in winter weather. Think of it as building muscle memory: Your winter driving skills are rusty at the beginning of the season but you can commit them to memory by practicing them repeatedly as soon as wintry weather arrives.

Visit ShiftIntoWinter.ca for more free information and resources that can help reduce the risks when driving during winter.

If you drive for work, the Alliance reminds you to follow safe work procedures and report any unsafe conditions to your supervisor. If you employ or supervise workers who drive on the job, take Shift into Winter’s free Winter Driving Safety for Employers and Supervisors online course. Everyone who completes the course and an exit survey will be entered in a draw for a gift certificate for 4 winter tires (value up to $1,000), donated by Kal Tire. For details, visit ShiftIntoWinter.ca/online-course/.

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. Drivers 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 Bains, Minister of Labour:

“For those whose work includes a lot of time on the road, it’s vitally important to practice safe driving as we move into the winter season with its challenging road conditions. Be cautious, be alert and plan ahead with your winter driving so we can all get home safely at the end of the day.”

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

“As the weather gets colder, being prepared for snow and icy conditions is critical for keeping yourself and others safe on the roads. I encourage all drivers to follow the Shift into Winter campaign’s helpful tips to get their vehicles ready for B.C’s winter driving conditions.”

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