How to win at winter driving: tips for driving in poor weather conditions

With snow and ice blanketing the Valley, winter road safety is paramount

Winter’s only just begun, but its arrival has brought a flurry of flakes and freezing rain, which has created dangerous driving conditions on many of Chilliwack’s roads and nearby highways.

Over the holidays, ICBC estimated an average of 340 people province-wide were hurt in 1,200 crashes: that’s 22 accidents and six people injured every hour from Christmas Eve evening to midnight on Boxing Day. And while not every case can be attributed driver error, many instances could be avoided if drivers slowed down or regularly practiced safe driving techniques to cutoff any possibly disastrous circumstances.

The road to safe driving begins before even leaving the driveway said ICBC’s Joanna Linsangan. “It’s about preparing your vehicle,” she says. “Start at the roof and work your way down clearing off all the snow and ice. Make sure you wipe off the side mirrors and the license plate.”

READ MORE: Late December winter storm has Chilliwack city crews working non-stop

Charlz Sebastian, who owns RoadQuest Driving Academy, agrees visibility is one of the most important aspects of winter driving. “Many drivers drive their cars with a lot of snow on the windshield and they don’t have a lot of visibility,” he says. “It’s not good.” Clean the car off completely while warming it up: it won’t be time wasted.

In addition to providing yourself with ample visibility, Sebastian says it’s as equally important to make sure the other cars on the road can see you. A good rule of thumb, he says, is: “If you need to use your wipers, you need your lights on.”

But a glowing dashboard doesn’t mean your lights are on. “Make the physical switch to double check they’re on,” adds Linsangan.

Another important aspect to safe winter driving is having a properly equipped vehicle: a 4×4 isn’t needed, but everyone should have winter tires—it’s important to remember it’s the law when driving east of Chilliwack.

And even though winter tires can seem like an unnecessary expense to some, Sebastian says it’s better to be safe than sorry and put them on your vehicle.

“Proper tires help divers safely accelerate and decelerate,” he adds. “So don’t worry about saving money: not using winter tires will be more expensive when you have an accident.”

“And even if your vehicle isn’t well-suited (yet), it’s not too late,” says Linsangan. “There’s still plenty of winter to come.”

Besides ensuring your vehicle is safe and can be seen, Sebastian and Linsangan both say the next most important thing to remember when driving in the winter is it’s not summer.

“Speed-related crashes peak during the winter months,” says Linsangan. “It’s not summer outside, so people need to adjust accordingly.”

The best way to achieve that is to slow down and drive appropriately, says Sebastian. “The speed limit is only for good weather conditions,” he explains. “Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Plan your route accordingly and give yourself enough time so you won’t have to be in a hurry.”

Sebastian also reminds winter drivers to increase the safe distance between cars to 10 seconds. “In Scotland they visualize a 10-car space between vehicles and they have far less accidents,” he says.

READ MORE: Winter storm warning continues for Chilliwack

For the most part, the Fraser Valley doesn’t experience winter as harshly as the rest of the province, but drivers still need to feel confidence in both their vehicle and ability to drive in the snow.

“Before getting into their car, drivers needs to ask themselves, ‘Do I feel comfortable driving in the snow and ice? Is my car safe enough?’ If the answer is ‘No’, it’s probably best to leave the car at home,” says Linsangan, emphasizing safety is always the best course of action.

“There’s nothing wrong with saying, ‘I’m not comfortable to go out driving in this (weather),’” and either find an alternative method of transportation—public transit, car pooling, calling a cab—or staying avoid it all together by staying home.


@SarahGawdin
Sarah.Gawdin@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Neil Diamond tribute comes to Fort Langley

Bobby Bruce bring his Nearly Neil show to the Chief Sepass Theatre.

VIDEO: Decision in Langley condo case shows consumer law needs changing, buyers say

Reaction to appeal court decision that forces buyers to pay more than originally agreed

Classical musician from Langley explains life in 35 pieces

Well-respected musician and Langley Community Music School teacher launches a book this Friday.

Langley-based Stealth sold, moving to Vancouver

National Lacrosse League announces sale to Canucks Sports and Entertainment

UPDATE: Minor injuries in rollover crash that closed Sea-to-Sky

Hwy. 99 not expected to re-open until 2:30 p.m.

Canada won’t ‘play politics’ on U.S. migrant children policy

The U.S. government is under fire over its ”zero tolerance” policy

Late goal gives England 2-1 win over Tunisia

At the last World Cup in 2014, England couldn’t even win a game

Canadian military police officer pleads not guilty to sex assault

Sgt. Kevin MacIntyre, 48, entered his plea today at a court martial proceeding in Halifax

Murdered BC woman’s final words, ‘I love you, Mom’

It took 10 years, but Lisa Dudley’s mother finally found out what her daughter said before she passed

Quarter of seafood sold in Metro Vancouver is mislabelled: researchers

Intentional mislabelling can mask concerns about sustainability or human rights

Completion date for Alex Fraser Bridge improvements pushed to 2019

New traffic lights at Nordel Way and Highway 91 mark the end of phase one of the project

Cheers erupt as Federal Court judge approves historic gay purge settlement

Gay military veterans said they were interrogated, harassed and spied on because of their sexuality

Remains of two people found on Vancouver Island

Officials have not said whether or not the remains belong to two missing men, last seen in Ucluelet in mid-May

Helping B.C.’s helpers cope

The MRT has helped almost 7,000 first responders and street workers in 57 communities in B.C.

Most Read