The calendar turns to October this weekend and already there is the first dust of snow in the high country in parts of the province. That means it’s time for drivers to winterize their vehicles.
First, tires. Provincial law requires winter tires on vehicles as of October 1 in many parts of the province, including all of the Kootenays and the North.
Designated highways require winter tires or chains from October 1 to March 31. The timeline extends to April 30 for select highways, including mountain passes and rural routes in high snowfall areas.
The annual Shift into Winter campaign from Road Safety at Work has begun and the advice is that winter tires provide better traction and stopping distances when temperatures drop below 7 degrees C.
Tires displaying the 3-peaked mountain/snowflake symbol and M+S (mud and snow) tires both meet the legal requirement as long as they have least 3.5 mm of tread. Winter tires outperform M+S tires in cold and snowy conditions.
But tires aren’t the only thing that should change for winter conditions. You also need to adjust your driving and prepare your vehicle.
For driving, the most important advice is slow down. Increase the distance between you and the vehicle ahead to at least four seconds. Accelerate and brake slowly. Make sure your lights are on. If you start to skid, ease off the brake or accelerator and look and steer in the direction you want to go.
In addition to winter tires, winter wiper blades are advised, as is a tune up to top up anti-freeze, check tire pressure, inspect brakes, lights and engine belts. If you drive an electric vehicle make sure you check the charge level before heading out, as batteries drain more quickly in cold weather.
“Our maintenance contractors will be out in full force again this winter to keep our roads safe,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Drivers can better ensure their own safety and the safety of others by preparing for the season by installing winter tires, watching weather forecasts, checking DriveBC, and driving safely — including making space for road maintenance equipment.”