Busy holiday season increases need for safe winter driving in Metro Vancouver

14 December 2021

The hectic holiday season brings more vehicle travel, more drivers in a hurry, and more winter weather such as rain, ice, fog, and snow. It’s a combination of factors that can put drivers at increased risk. That’s why the Winter Driving Safety Alliance reminds Metro Vancouver residents to adopt safe winter driving practices over Christmas and New Year’s.

The average number of casualty crashes due to driving too fast for the conditions more than doubles from fall to early winter in BC, according to statistics on crashes reported to police from 2015-2019.

“Most crashes are preventable if we prepare and plan ahead for the conditions we will face,” says Louise Yako, spokesperson for the Alliance’s annual Shift into Winter campaign.

“Slowing down to match road conditions can save your life, the lives of people travelling with you, and the lives of others using the road, including pedestrians,” she says. “And that would be the best gift you could give anyone.”

The festive season typically sees people travelling to visit friends and family. Many people who drive as part of their job spend longer hours behind the wheel. And, particularly this year, drivers may travel unfamiliar routes or face changing road conditions as they share the road with sand trucks and snowplows.

To help Metro Vancouver drivers reduce the risk of being in a crash over the holidays, the Alliance offers these additional safety tips:

Don’t drive if it’s not essential when conditions are poor

Consider postponing trips if possible when winter conditions are hazardous. Your family and friends would rather have a video call from your home than get a call from the hospital telling them you’ve been injured in a crash. If the trip is work-related, remember that you have the right to refuse to drive in unsafe conditions.

Know before you go: Check conditions and plan your route

Visit DriveBC.ca for updated weather, traffic, and road conditions before leaving. Roads that are open now may close a few hours later. Select the safest route, travel during daylight if possible, and give yourself extra time to get to your destination. Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to arrive.

Make sure your vehicle has four matched winter tires

The Alliance recommends tires that carry the 3-peaked mountain and snowflake symbol and have a tread depth of at least 3.5 mm. These tires offer the best traction on snow, ice, and in cold weather. They outperform M + S (Mud and Snow) tires at temperatures of 7C or lower.

Be prepared for holiday season driving

Take a fully-charged phone with you. Keep a winter driving emergency kit in your vehicle. Check window washer fluid. Clear all snow off your vehicle and wait for the windows to defrost completely before setting out.

Maintain a safe following distance of at least four seconds

Drive to the conditions – slow down and leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle ahead of you). It takes longer to stop on a slippery road. “Even the most experienced drivers can’t predict how their or the other drivers’ vehicle will react in snow or on ice,” Yako points out.

Use extreme caution when approaching highway maintenance equipment

Give plenty of time and space to plows and salt and sand trucks. Never pass them on the right and only on the left when it is safe and legal to do so.

For more information on holiday season winter driving safety, visit ShiftIntoWinter.ca. The 13th annual campaign is a joint provincial initiative supported by the Winter Driving Safety Alliance and managed by Road Safety at Work.


The Hon. Harry Bains, Minister of Labour:

“People who drive a lot for their work – truckers, delivery people, taxi drivers, and many others – know the challenges of driving in difficult weather conditions. Let’s remind ourselves to be extra cautious, give yourself extra time so that everyone gets home from work safe and sound.”

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

“This year, as we shift into winter, I urge drivers to be prepared for changing weather, and to drive to conditions at all times. Particularly after the challenging weather events we experienced in November, drivers must take extra caution. This will ensure the safety of drivers and those around them – including the maintenance contractors and traffic control personnel who are working around the clock to restore our infrastructure following the recent storm damage. Using the tips provided by the Winter Driving Safety Alliance will help keep traffic moving, ensure people get home safe, and avoid unnecessary road closures.”

Al Johnson, Head of Prevention Services, WorkSafeBC:

“This year we’ve seen serious challenges in BC related to climate change. With colder weather now here, employers and workers must be prepared for any weather patterns that could introduce serious, and sudden, road hazards. But the hazards are not limited to the roads — rain, snow, ice, leaves, and mud can create dangerous conditions in places like loading docks, parking lots, and walkways. It is an employer’s responsibility to ensure workers are trained and prepared for the conditions, and their fleets are properly outfitted for winter.”

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 BC. Members are: Ambulance Paramedics of BC; Automotive Retailers Association; BCAA; BC Forest Safety Council; BC Road Builders & Heavy Construction Association; BC Trucking Association; City of Kelowna; 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 BC 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