Happy new year to everyone and I hope you had a safe, wonderful Christmas season with loved ones.
I want to remind everyone who ventures on our roads that winter is still upon us and it is our responsibility to drive safely and be prepared for harsh conditions.
Winter driving can pose many risks and safety concerns for the residents of the Shuswap. It is important to prepare ourselves for the coming winter months and prevent problems before they occur by making your vehicle winter-ready.
The roads have often been slick this winter, so it is important to slow down and plan your trip ahead of time. Check road conditions, avoid driving when conditions are hazardous and ensure your winter tires have been installed and inspected.
Winter tires have been defined as those labelled with either the mountain snowflake symbol or the mud and snow (M+S) symbol. Winter tires must be in good condition with a minimum tread depth of 3.5 millimetres.
Drivers who do not have the proper winter tires on their vehicle on the designated routes can receive a fine of $121. Drivers who do not have the minimum tread depth on their tires (3.5 millmetres) on the designated routes can receive a fine of $109.
Winter tires improve safety by providing better traction in snow, slush and icy conditions – which can happen at any time in the Shuswap and North Okanagan at this time of year. Drivers are also reminded to check tire air pressure frequently, because it decreases in cold weather.
Here are some more tips for safe winter driving:
Wear your seatbelt.
Drive to the road conditions. During times of bad weather or limited visibility, slow down.
Learn and practise winter driving techniques before you need them.
Don’t drive under the influence.
Keep your gas tank topped up.
Pack an emergency kit.
Plan your trip and tell your friends and family.
Check road and weather conditions on DriveBC.
Remove all snow from your vehicle before each trip.
Give yourself extra travel time in bad weather.
Avoid using overdrive and cruise control on slippery roads.
Travel with a fully charged cellphone for emergency situations.
This time of year can be especially dangerous with freeze/thaw cycles that can result in black ice. The roads might look OK, but often they’re not. The same goes for slushy roads.
Remember the importance of safe winter driving by being prepared, planning ahead and slowing down. Safe travels.
Greg Kyllo is the Shuswap MLA.