The Shift into Winter campaign is reminding drivers in the Comox Valley to be prepared for Mother Nature’s ultimate road test

Winter driving can more than double your risk of being in a motor vehicle crash around B.C. 

To help reduce the risk, the campaign says you should be prepared and plan ahead.

“Winter is Mother Nature’s ultimate road test,” says Louise Yako, spokesperson for the 13th annual campaign. 

“Winter conditions can change quickly in Powell River and the rest of the Sunshine Coast and push your driving skills to the limit.”

Winter roads can be dangerous due to rain, snow, ice, and fog. 

“Even the most experienced drivers are challenged by cold temperatures, slippery roads, and reduced visibility,” Yako says. “We want drivers to shift into winter by preparing for winter driving before winter weather hits. The time to do that is now.”

“Even the most experienced drivers are at risk when weather conditions change. On average, more than 20 workers are killed and another 1,500 are injured each year due to work-related motor vehicle incidents—with the majority occurring in winter,” said Al Johnson, Head of Prevention Services, WorkSafeBC. 

“We want to remind employers and supervisors of their responsibility for the safety of all workers who drive as part of their jobs—whether they are in a company vehicle or their own.”

In B.C., the average number of casualty crashes due to driving too fast for the conditions more than doubles from fall to early winter – to about 220 in December from about 99 in September, according to statistics on crashes reported to police from 2015 to 2019.  

Casualty crashes are defined as ones involving either a fatality or a person admitted to hospital or medical treatment.

Shift into Winter’s launch this year coincided with the law requiring all vehicles driving on designated highways in B.C. to have winter tires (3-peaked mountain and snowflake, or mud and snow) with at least 3.5 mm of tread depth.

That rule came into effect on Oct. 1st.

The campaign is designed to raise awareness of the changing weather and driving conditions and to remind drivers and employers to be prepared and plan ahead. 

It’s a joint provincial initiative supported by the Winter Driving Safety Alliance and managed by Road Safety at Work.

The alliance offers the following tips for drivers to help them stay safe on the road this winter:

  • Prepare your vehicle by installing a set of four winter tires with the three-peaked mountain and snowflake symbol which offers the best traction on snow, ice, and in cold weather;
  • Give your vehicle a pre-winter maintenance check-up every year;
  • Carry a winter driving emergency kit;
  • Check road conditions on DriveBC.ca before heading out. If possible, postpone your plans and avoid driving when road and weather conditions are poor;
  • Slow down to meet the road conditions. Keep at least four seconds between you and the vehicle in front, which gives you plenty of room in situations where you may need to brake suddenly;
  • Prepare yourself by knowing how to drive for the conditions before you get behind the wheel. 
  • Learn how to brake safely, get out of a skid, and become familiar with how your vehicle handles in winter weather. Think of it as building muscle memory: Your winter driving skills are rusty at the beginning of the season but you can commit them to memory by practicing them repeatedly as soon as wintry weather arrives.

Visit ShiftIntoWinter.ca for more free information and resources that can help reduce the risks when driving during winter. 

If you drive for work, the Alliance reminds you to follow safe work procedures and report any unsafe conditions to your supervisor. 

If you employ or supervise workers who drive on the job, take Shift into Winter’s free Winter Driving Safety for Employers and Supervisors online course. 

Everyone who completes the course and an exit survey will be entered in a draw for a gift certificate for four winter tires (value up to $1,000), donated by Kal Tire. For details, visit ShiftIntoWinter.ca/online-course/.

Tires, chains required on designated highways

Winter tires or chains are required on all vehicles on most designated highways in B.C. from Oct. 1st to March 31st. 

For select highways, including mountain passes and rural routes in high snowfall areas, the date is extended until April 30th to account for early spring snowfall. These highways are marked with regulatory signs.

Non-compliant drivers may be turned away and be subject to a fine. Drivers can find more information on DriveBC.ca.