Summer is in the rear-view mirror, and while much of B.C. is still enjoying warm weather, autumn is well and truly here. It means that weather conditions can change rapidly, and vary widely from place to place: one spot might be enjoying blue skies and sunshine, but heavy fog can be waiting around the next corner.
BC RCMP Traffic Services are reminding drivers to be prepared for these changing conditions as winter draws near. October is “Drive Relative to Conditions” month in B.C., and police will be out in force throughout the province stopping drivers and checking vehicles to ensure motorists are safe and vehicles are properly equipped to meet winter driving conditions. According to provincial statistics, an average of 38 people die every year in B.C. in collisions where vehicles were being driven too fast for the road conditions.
Daylight hours are getting shorter, and the clocks are set to go back on Sunday, Nov. 1. Fall weather will soon be settling in; some areas are already experiencing frosty mornings, and snow isn’t far behind. However, there are precautions that motorists can take to ensure they, and their vehicles, are ready for whatever they encounter on the road.
1. Remember your windshield wipers? You probably haven’t used them much over the summer, so now is the time to check and see if they need to be replaced. Good windshield wipers will improve visibility (and make sure you clear your windows of fog, frost, ice, and snow before you go).
2. Clean your vehicle’s windows inside and out, use air conditioning at a comfortable temperature so windows don’t fog up, and consider applying products to the exterior glass that repels water to improve visibility.
3. Check your tires to ensure they are in good condition, have sufficient tread depth, and are properly inflated. Winter treads (including M&S tires) are required in B.C. between Oct. 1 and April 30, although for select highways not located through mountain passes and/or high snowfall areas, tire/ chain requirements end on March 31.
4. Turn your headlights to the “on” position. This ensures that your tail lights come on as well as your headlights, meaning it’s easier for drivers behind you to see you. Make sure all your lights, signals, and brake lights are fully functional.
5. Do not use cruise control on wet, snowy, or slippery road surfaces.
6. Increase the distance between you and vehicles ahead to give yourself more time to stop, especially if it is raining/snowing/slippery/foggy/night time.
7. Slow down, especially if it is raining, snowing, or foggy, or at any other time your visibility is limited. Remember that speed limits indicate maximum speed under ideal conditions.
8. Be extra vigilant for cyclists and pedestrians, who may not be clearly visible.
9. Watch out for black ice as temperatures drop to freezing.
10. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination.