Slow down for winter driving conditions. (Citizen file)

Slow down for winter driving conditions. (Citizen file)

Editorial: Winter is here: switch tires, slow down, and prepare

With snow possible in the next few days, winter has well and truly arrived.

With snow possible in the next few days, winter has well and truly arrived.

One of the biggest perils it poses is for those who hit the road during inclement weather.

It’s worth taking an inventory of just how ready you are for winter driving; it’s not just your life you’re risking when you take to the road without adequate preparation and attention.

First up, winter tires. Many people on Vancouver Island historically haven’t bothered to switch out their tires, as our relatively mild weather makes snow an anomaly, not a constant as winter sets in. But there are conditions other than snow where winter tires perform better, including on icy mornings and even in heavy rain. It’s all about the type of rubber used in the tires and how hard it becomes at what temperature.

And now, of course, if you’re heading over the Malahat you are required to have them on your vehicle.

It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re ready if you get stuck somewhere. A snow shovel and first aid kit, along with blankets should make their way into you trunk if they aren’t there already.

Then there’s this familiar refrain: slow down.

Many people not only habitually outdrive their headlights (they are going too fast to see something and stop in time), they also don’t adjust their speed for conditions.

Driving when there’s the possibility of black ice, or there’s slush on the road, or there’s water pooling from a downpour, is not the same as driving on a dry road in midsummer.

Ask yourself, are you leaving enough time to stop without plowing into the vehicle in front of you? If you can’t answer that question confidently in the affirmative, ease off the gas a little. Far too many people take the posted speed as a suggestion, not the maximum that it is.

Arriving first isn’t nearly as vital as arriving alive.

Cowichan Valley Citizen