According to the safe-driving advocacy group Shift Into Winter the holidays are one of the highest risk times for driving in the East Kootenay.
Many of us plan to drive to visit family and friends over the holidays.
ICBC reports an average of more than 1,900 crashes every year in B.C. over the holidays. Claims for injuries incurred during work-related driving increase every December, according to WorkSafeBC statistics.
“Driving in winter conditions is a risk every time you get behind the wheel, in all parts of the East Kootenay,” said 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?’.”
And remember, there will be more vehicles on the road during the holidays, as well as winter weather conditions.
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. B.C. law requires tread depth of at least 3.5 mm.
• Be prepared
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.
Shift Into Winter is funded by WorkSafeBC, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and ICBC.