A police officer speaks to a driver during last year’s Shift Into Winter event in Quesnel. The annual road check reminds drivers to slow down and be safe during winter. (Karen Powell Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

A police officer speaks to a driver during last year’s Shift Into Winter event in Quesnel. The annual road check reminds drivers to slow down and be safe during winter. (Karen Powell Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

It’s time to Shift into Winter

The annual campaign offers winter driving tips

With snow already starting to fall, it’s a good time to prepare yourself and your vehicle for winter driving if you haven’t already.

The annual Shift into Winter Campaign, spearheaded by the Winter Driving Safety Alliance, kicked off Oct. 1. As of Oct. 1, winter tires or chains are mandatory on most highways in B.C., including highways 97 and 26.

In British Columbia, the chances of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle incident dramatically increase during winter months, according to the Shift into Winter website.

“On average, the number of casualty crashes due to driving too fast for the conditions increases by 122 per cent in December compared to September (approximately 220 crashes in December compared to approximately 99 in September),” it states.

The annual Shift into Winter Campaign aims to reduce this risk by reminding British Columbians to prepare now and plan ahead for winter driving.

The website offers several tips to help keep you and your family safe this winter.

1. Prepare your vehicle

• Install a set of four matched winter tires (three-peaked mountain and snowflake) with at least 3.5 millimetres of tread depth. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Install them now before the poor weather hits as they provide better traction and control in rain, snow, slush and icy conditions.

• Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle.

• Every year, give your vehicle a pre-season maintenance check-up.

2. Prepare yourself

• Know how to drive for the conditions before you get behind the wheel. Even the most experienced drivers can’t predict how their vehicles or other drivers will react in rain, snow or on ice.

• Slow down to match road conditions. The posted speed limit is the maximum speed under ideal driving conditions.

• Maintain a safe following distance. Look ahead and keep at least four seconds of distance between you and the vehicle in front. Leaving extra space allows more time for you to react to other drivers behaviours.

• Know how to brake safely and get out of a skid. On slick roads, start slowly and accelerate gradually to maintain traction and avoid spinning your wheels. When stopping, plan well in advance, apply the brakes gently, and slowly add pressure. Avoid braking suddenly.

• Use extreme caution when approaching highway maintenance equipment, including plows, salt and sand trucks. Never pass on the right.

• Sign up for the free online webinar “Shift into Winter: Practical BC Winter Driving Tips” through shiftintowinter.ca.

3. Don’t go

• If possible, postpone your plans and avoid driving when road and weather conditions are poor.

4. Know before you go. If you have to travel:

• Check weather warnings and road conditions at DriveBC.ca

• Give yourself extra time to get to your destination.

• Select the safest route. Check with the local municipality to see which roads have been prioritized for plowing and salting, and avoid driving on steep hills.

• Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to arrive.

• If you get stuck, stay with your vehicle.

For more information,visit shiftintowinter.ca.

READ MORE: Be prepared and drive safely, say BC RCMP as winter draws closer


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