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Driving in Poor Conditions

Driving in Poor Conditions

December 17, 2020

Though this year is very different than past years and with Public Health recommending British Columbians avoid non-essential travel, road conditions – no matter the distance – are sure to get worse. As we enter the winter season, it is important to be cognizant of changing driving conditions and driving in the snow.

A quick reminder for British Columbians – winter tire and chain rules are in effect on most of B.C.’s highways from October 1 to March 31. Given the unpredictability of the weather, it’s a good idea for Lower Mainland drivers to purchase some good winter tires too.

Driving in snowy or icy conditions requires more than just equipping your vehicle with snow tires, although snow tires are the most important aspect of driving in those conditions.

Driving in the snow is a simple science – it’s all about friction and traction. Snow tires have a deeper tread to cut through the slush and snow, and snow tires are constructed from softer rubber to help with traction. Lower temperatures in general affects the rubber in summer and all-season tires in a way that lowers traction. The rubber used for snow tires, on the other hand, stays soft and flexible in freezing temperatures in order to grip what’s underneath them. All-season tires have reduced traction and stopping power below seven degrees Celsius, and do not offer reliable braking or cornering on ice or cold weather conditions. Compared to M+S designated tires, snow tires offer superior braking and cornering performance on wet and rough ice, soft and hard-packed snow, along with slush. It’s worth the investment for snow tires!

Any combination of snowy, slushy or slick roads and reduced visibility means that drivers need to do more prep work and adjust their driving. Winter driving requires a lot more concentration and care as well. Use slow motions, refrain from braking quickly, and use a very soft foot on the accelerator pedal. Simply driving at a slower speed and exercising caution is one of the smartest things you can do. If you’re driving a new car with electronic traction and stability control, keep them turned on in the winter.

Store snow shovels and kitty litter , for traction, in your trunk in case you need to dig yourself (or your neighbour) out. Flares, flashlights, blankets and a snow scraper are also useful items to have on-hand. Check your antifreeze levels and consider investing in heavy-duty snow wipers to help with visibility.

Drivers who don’t slow down or adjust for conditions are always a top concern for others sharing the road. Both stopping and turning are actions that take a lot longer, so keep a longer follow distance and remember to slow down.

Also remember to check your battery – there is nothing worse than trying to start your car’s engine and hearing your engine struggle to start.

And please – as always – stay safe and do not drink and drive. Stay local and in your household bubble!

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at bqualey@newcardealers.ca.

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