Winter weather makes holiday driving risky in BC
Drivers can prevent most crashes by adjusting for winter conditions
Planning to drive over the busy holiday season? Whether it’s to see family and friends or for work, BC drivers will be at risk.
ICBC reports an average of more than 1,900 crashes every year in BC over the holidays. Claims for injuries incurred during work-related driving increase every December, according to WorkSafeBC statistics.
The best gift drivers can give themselves is to prepare and plan ahead to ensure they — and their passengers — get home safe, says Shift into Winter, an annual campaign supported by the Winter Driving Safety Alliance
“Driving in winter conditions is a risk every time you get behind the wheel,” says campaign spokesperson Trace Acres. “Most crashes are preventable if we install good winter tires, adjust driving for the conditions, pay attention and avoid distractions, and avoid driving when conditions are treacherous.”
He encourages drivers to be pro-active when it comes to their safety.
“The majority of us are confident in our own abilities and are quick to blame others as the reason why driving is a dangerous activity,” says Acres. Yet every driver can make an error or poor decision, such as driving above the posted speed limit or getting distracted by a phone, that can cause a crash.
“We need to adjust our driving attitude, from ‘How can I get where I need to go as quickly as possible?’ to ‘How can I get where I need to go safely?’.”
The hectic holiday season brings more vehicle travel, more drivers in a hurry, and more winter weather such as rain, ice, fog, and snow. Drivers may also be travelling unfamiliar routes. They may also drive through work zones, where the road may change its familiar path, lanes may be closed, and the surface may be uneven.
To help drivers reduce the risk of being in a crash, Shift into Winter offers these additional safety tips:
Don’t drive if it’s not essential
Consider postponing trips if possible when winter conditions are hazardous. People who drive at any time on the job have the right to refuse to drive in unsafe conditions.
Know before you go
Check conditions and plan your route before leaving by visiting DriveBC.ca for updated weather, traffic, and road conditions. Travel during daylight if possible. Allow extra time to get to your destination. Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to arrive.
Use four matched winter tires in good condition
Shift into Winter recommends tires that carry the 3-peaked mountain and snowflake symbol. They offer the best traction and outperform M + S (Mud and Snow) tires at temperatures of 7C or lower. BC law requires tread depth of at least 3.5 mm.
Make sure your vehicle is ready for the conditions. Check window washer fluid and wiper blades. Clear all snow and wait for the windows to defrost completely before setting out. Carry a winter driving emergency kit and a fully-charged phone. Avoid distractions while driving.
Maintain a safe following distance
Leave at least four seconds of space between you and the vehicle ahead. It takes longer to stop on a slippery road.
Use caution around highway maintenance equipment
Give plows and salt and sand trucks space. Never pass them on the right and only on the left when it is safe and legal to do so.
For more information on winter driving safety, visit ShiftIntoWinter.ca. The 14th annual campaign is managed by Road Safety at Work, supported by the Winter Driving Safety Alliance, and funded by WorkSafeBC, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and ICBC.
Harry Bains, Minister of Labour:
“No matter where your job takes you, safety must always be the top priority. For anyone whose work takes them on the road, safety is especially important during the winter months. Always practice defensive driving, because every worker deserves to go home, healthy and whole, after a shift.”
Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure:
“Safety is my ministry’s number one priority, and our dedicated maintenance contractors are ready to tackle winter conditions on highways throughout the province. Drivers can do their part by making sure both their vehicles and their driving habits are prepared for winter conditions, so everyone can have safe travels this holiday season.”
About the Winter Driving Safety Alliance
The Winter Driving Safety Alliance is a cross-section of 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 Highway Patrol – RCMP; BC Road Builders & Heavy Construction Association; City of Kelowna; City of Vancouver; Concrete BC; Corecode Safety and Compliance; Hansen’s; Insurance Corporation of BC; Island Equipment Owners Association; Justice Institute of British Columbia; Kal Tire; Mainroad; Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure; Road Safety at Work; SafetyDriven; Tiger Calcium Services; Tire and Rubber Association of Canada; Wilson M Beck Insurance Group; and WorkSafeBC.
About Road Safety at Work
Road Safety at Work manages Shift into Winter 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.
Gord Woodward, Communications manager
Road Safety at Work