IN many parts of the province, drivers are beginning to experience winter conditions and snowfall on the roads. With the forecast of La Niña, a climate phenomenon that results in abnormally cooler temperatures, B.C. is set to experience a colder and wetter winter than previous years. The Winter Driving Safety Alliance is urging motorists, workers and employers to prepare for winter driving conditions with its annual Shift into Winter campaign.
All B.C. drivers—and employers with workers who drive for business purposes—need to prepare for the winter months ahead. Winter driving conditions can be dangerous across the province—from rain and fog, to snow and ice. Even the most experienced drivers are challenged by cold temperatures, slippery roads, and reduced visibility.
In B.C., the average number of crashes where someone is killed or injured due to ‘driving too fast for the conditions’ more than doubles from fall to early winter—on average from 99 in September to 220 in December. Further, 28 per cent of all work-related crashes resulting in injury and time-loss claims occur in November, December, and January.
The Shift into Winter website provides information for drivers on how best to prepare for winter driving as well as information for employers around planning, implementing, and monitoring a winter driving safety program. Employers and supervisors can access an online course and use resources provided in the employer toolkit— which includes a sample winter driving safety policy, recommended procedures, and customizable templates. In addition, an online quiz tests drivers’ and employers’ knowledge.
The Alliance encourages drivers and employers to adhere to these tips to stay safe on the road this winter:
* Plan ahead and check current road and weather conditions on DriveBC.ca.
* Install a set of four matched winter tires with the 3-peaked mountain/snowflake symbol.
* Give your vehicle a pre-season maintenance check-up.
* Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle.
* Slow down—the posted speed limit is the maximum speed under ideal driving conditions. Reduce your speed below the speed limit and drive with extra care.
* Maintain a safe following distance—look ahead and keep at least four seconds of distance between you and the vehicle in front.
* Invest in winter driving training—learn how to brake safely, get out of a skid, and become familiar with how your vehicle handles in winter weather. Register and attend a free webinar to learn about practical B.C. driving tips.
Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their employees who drive for work, regardless of whether they drive a company-owned or personal vehicle. ShiftIntoWinter.ca provides information and resources that can help reduce the risks employees face when driving during winter.
Al Johnson, Head of Prevention Services, WorkSafeBC, said: “Most employers in B.C. have workers that drive for work—whether full time like truck or taxi drivers, or as part of their job like sales people, community health nurses, or trades workers. Employers should start preparing now by accessing resources through the Shift into Winter website to ensure their workers have the information and tools they need to drive safely this winter.”