Wise up to winter driving

The roads between Sun Peaks and Kamloops are so commonly driven by residents of these two communities that it can be easy to grow complacent about them. “I’ve driven them a thousand times” might accurately sum up a driver’s relationship with the road, but that shouldn’t get in the way of caution.

As driving conditions worsen throughout the winter, instances of serious accidents increases according to ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of B.C.

There are on average 289 crashes resulting in injury or death in this province during December alone, while over 51 per cent of all fatalities happen on weekends. Keeping in mind the amount of traffic on the Highway 5 and Tod Mountain Road during the peak ski months, caution is a prudent choice.

The big factor that will inhibit safe winter driving is the weather. Snowy roads often mean running late—from unexpected driveway shovelling to being “stuck” behind snowplows. And running late makes many of us press a bit heavier on the gas to make it there on time.

The faster a vehicle travels, however, the longer it takes to stop. Factor in wet or slippery conditions, and stopping time is noticeably increased.

“In the Southern Interior, snow is the main factor in crashes where the driver was travelling too fast for the conditions,” said Fiona Temple, ICBC’s director of road safety. “Driving is a complex task that requires your full attention, but especially in winter weather. When snow hits, it can seriously reduce your visibility and make stopping on road surfaces more difficult.” 

Rapidly changing temperatures and elevation can cause unpredictable road conditions. Although the road may look the same, black ice can form unexpectedly and may not be visible.

Black ice is commonly found on roads with shaded areas, bridges, overpasses and intersections where car exhaust and packed snow freeze quickly.

If you drive over black ice and start to skid, ICBC’s online driving tips recommend drivers ease off the accelerator and look and steer smoothly in the direction you want to go. They caution to not brake as this will make the situation worse; the manoeuvre might need to be repeated several times until you regain control.

For more winter driving tips visit: icbc.com

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