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Winter conditions still expected on B.C. roads

Winter conditions still expected on B.C. roads

February 7, 2019

Published in Post Media, by Blair Qualey

Spring is just around the corner but it’s important to remember that winter isn’t over when it comes to road conditions. Obviously winter and road conditions are going to vary, depending on what area of the province you reside in or travel. For those of you who may be contemplating when to have your winter tires switched out for summer, you may want to hold off.

Temperatures across British Columbia are expected to remain at their coldest through to the end of February. This is just one of the many reasons why BC drivers must continue to obey winter tire and chain signs until March 31st. Certain select highways, where higher snowfall levels are anticipated, the date is extended until April 30th. It’s recommended that if you plan on venturing onto highways with high mountain passes, such as the Sea-to-sky or Coquihalla – or for that matter, throughout the Interior or the North, your winter tires remain on in order to ensure your own safety and that of other drivers. Also, familiarize yourself with BC road conditions and plan your route in advance by visiting www.drivebc.ca.

Prior to driving on BC highways it’s important to remember that trips can often start out with perfect weather but quickly change. Poor visibility could occur due to stretches of fog, rain, slush, even heavy snowfall. However, there are a handful of tips and tricks that drivers can use to prepare themselves for unexpected road conditions.

Safety should always come first, which is why the Canadian Safety Council suggests drivers equip their vehicles with a snowbrush, scraper, lightweight shovel, extra battery, jumper cables, and a flashlight. Before getting on the road, if your vehicle has been parked outside in cooler weather conditions, check your tire pressure and ensure that your exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud that can cause a carbon monoxide gas leak. Visibility is key, so take your time to ensure that windows, mirrors, and the top of your vehicle are clear of snow/frost. Don’t risk the trek with anything less then a half a tank of gas, this will help to prevent your fuel lines from freezing. Once your safety components have been taken care of you are ready to hit the road.

It’s common during this time of the year, as nicer weather begins to stick around, for us to assume road conditions have improved. However, that’s not necessarily the case. Snow and ice are more slippery at 0 degrees than at minus 20 or below. There is also a much greater risk for black ice when temperatures are fluctuating between plus 4 and minus 4 degrees.

Not all vehicles respond the same in these types of conditions, but drivers can take certain precautions to help avoid many risk factors. Allowing twice the normal breaking distance by increasing your following distance to 8-10 seconds is one way of doing this. Accelerating and decelerating slowly is another example of how you can help your vehicle to maintain traction and avoid skidding out. Powering up on hills is never the answer. Instead try creating some inertia on flat stretches of road. This simple fix will create the momentum needed to gain higher elevation without putting stress on the drive shaft. By remaining alert to your surroundings and remembering that speed limits are set for only ideal conditions, you’ll be following the rules of the road while ensuring the safety of yourself and others.

If you can avoid it, don’t take on the wrath of winter weather – your point of destination will still be waiting for you. Sometimes it’s best to wait out the storm, and as I suggest, Spring is just around the corner, as is the Vancouver International Auto Show! You’ll have the chance to learn more about all the latest vehicle safety, traction control, all wheel drive systems and more at this annual event. For tickets, visit www.VancouverInternationalAutoShow.com and we look forward to welcoming you March 19-24 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

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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