Winter tires required for early spring safety

DRIVERS are reminded that winter tire regulations remain in place until April 30 on many highways to account for early spring snowfall.

Winter tire regulations are in effect for most B.C. highways, so people should ensure their vehicle is equipped with tires with the mountain/snowflake or mud and snow (M + S) symbol when travelling on designated routes, says the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Tires must be in good condition and have a minimum tread depth of 3.5 millimetres. For rural highways and mountain passes, tires with the mountain/snowflake symbol provide the best traction and handling.

Two years ago, regulations were extended to April 30 from March 31 on select highways, most of which are in the Interior and northern parts of the province. Road conditions can change quickly, and snowfall is still possible in these regions.

While maintenance crews strive to keep routes safe and in the best possible condition, people must use caution and slow down when they encounter bad weather or limited visibility. Driving to current conditions will improve safety for everyone on the road.

Crashes can be prevented when people are prepared. Here are some helpful tips for travelling in winter driving conditions:

* Check the weather forecast and adjust travel times to more favourable conditions or choose alternative routes.

* For current road conditions, check DriveBC before leaving, as well as the more than 900 highway webcam views available at more than 450 locations throughout B.C.

* Wear comfortable clothing that does not restrict movement while driving, but bring warm clothing (winter boots, coat, gloves and hat) in case getting out of the vehicle is required.

* Have an emergency plan. Ensure the vehicle has a full tank of gas and is equipped with a windshield scraper and snow brush, food and water, a first-aid kit and other emergency supplies.

* If stuck or stranded, do not panic. Stay with the vehicle for safety and warmth and if a cellphone is available, call for roadside assistance. If there is an emergency, call 911.

Heavy snowfall or rapidly warming spring temperatures can increase the risk of avalanches in some areas. This can cause temporary highway closures while ministry avalanche experts ensure safe conditions. Obey all traffic control personnel during these times.

The Sea to Sky Highway in the Lower Mainland and the Malahat on Vancouver Island are not included. Winter tire regulations were lifted on those routes on March 31.

People should follow all provincial health officer’s orders and guidelines, including avoiding all non-essential travel.

Learn More:

List of highways designated for extended winter tire regulations:

Travel restrictions and precautions due to COVID-19: