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Riders on the Storm: Safe Winter Driving

The storms have started in BC, and the temperatures have dipped below 0 in other parts of the country. Halloween is over and winter is here.

In September, we explained how to properly winterize and store your motorcycle for the season. Now it’s time to talk about the vehicles you operate year-round.

Weather is commonly cited as a factor in accidents, with approximately thirty percent of collisions in 2017 occurring on snowy, icy and wet roads, according to the RCMP. We can’t change the weather, but we can change our habits.

Here are some tips to help you keep safe on the roads this winter:

  • Stay home during extreme weather events, if you can.
  • Check road conditions before you depart, plan your route before you go, and leave extra time to get to your destination.
  • Clear snow and ice from your car before setting out, and defog the windows
  • Do not use cruise control.
  • Make sure your battery is in good shape. Cold weather can be hard on batteries, so have it checked in the fall and replace it before the winter months if necessary.
  • Drive slowly and avoid backroads.
  • Ensure your windshield wipers are not streaking, and that you have lots of winter wiper fluid.
  • Don’t stop on an icy or snowy hill.
  • Use winter tires. The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) warns that all-season tires are not ideal for temperatures below seven degrees. (That means even in Victoria, winter tires are recommended.)
    • Not sure what to look for when buying winter tires? CAA recommends choosing tires with a snowflake and a three-peaked mountain on them. M&S (Mud and Snow) tires are better than all-season tires, but do not provide the same protection and security as winter tires that have passed a government-regulated test as winter tires (and received the snowflake/mountain seal of approval).
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • Leave extra distance between you and the other cars on the road, and prepare to brake earlier.
  • Accelerate and brake slowly.
  • Stay calm if you get stuck.
  • Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle.
    • Transport Canada suggests keeping the following in your vehicle: sand, jumper cables, a first aid kit, a blanket, a tool kit, extra socks, and more. (For a full list, click here.)
  • It should go without saying, but wear your seatbelt!

During storms and non-ideal driving conditions, it is extra important that drivers be sober and well-rested. If you have been drinking or had a poor night’s sleep, make alternate arrangements.

To check road conditions in your area, visit the Drive BC website.

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