Anyone who’s experienced B.C. winters knows that on certain roads, all season tires just don’t cut it. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure designates the road from Heffley Creek to Sun Peaks a winter highway, which means anyone travelling to or from Sun Peaks must carry chains or have winter tires.
“Heffley to Sun Peaks is a designated winter highway,” says Ingrid Brakop, road safety coordinator for ICBC. “That means that from Oct. 1 to April 30 drivers must carry chains or have winter tires on their vehicles.”
Snow or winter tires, which have the snowflake and mountain emblem, are specially designed for winter driving conditions.
“The difference between a snow tire and an all-season tire comes down to the rubber compound that’s in the tire. An all-season rubber tire will actually stiffen up starting at about 7 C and below, and that’s where you lose a lot of your ice traction,” says Jim McLaughlin, manager at Kal Tire.
The RCMP patrols Tod Mountain Road checking for winter tires. If stopped without winter tires or chains they can enforce the designated winter highway law by fining the driver, or sending them back down the mountain.
Snow tires are only part of the safe winter driving equation. Now is the time to prepare your vehicle for winter driving conditions. Transport B.C. recommends you get a winter maintenance check-up of your battery, brakes and lights, and change your wiper blades to winter blades as they can push snow and ice more easily. Prior to heading out clear all snow and ice from windows, lights and mirrors to maximize your visibility. Posted speed limits are the maximum speed allowed for ideal conditions. It’s safer to drive below the posted limit because no matter how much winter driving experience you have, vehicles can still be unpredictable on snow or ice. By keeping at least four seconds between your vehicle and the one in front, you increase your chances of being able to make a sudden stop.
“In B.C. there are fines for speeding relative to road conditions,” notes Brakop. “Fines start at $167 and if you’re caught excessively speeding (going more than 40 kilometers per hour over the speed limit) they can also impound your car for seven days for the first offence and 30 days for the second.”
“There is nothing an officer dreads more than contacting a family to tell them about the death of a loved one as a result of a crash,” said Superintendent Mike Diack, RCMP E-Division Traffic Services. “You can count on police throughout B.C. stepping up enforcement over the next few weeks to remind drivers to slow down.”
No matter what your winter driving experience is, it’s important to practice safe driving habits, because, at the end of the day, we all want to arrive alive.