Winter conditions across the province have started to arrive, and drivers are being reminded by Road Safety at Work that the risk of crashing increases.
Road Safety at Work manages the Shift into Winter campaign in B.C., reminding drivers to use caution due to the increase in road hazards from the winter conditions.
According to ICBC, there were 29,053 crashes in December 2022, which is more than 1,000 crashes per day. Of those, 3,726 crashes were on Vancouver Island.
Victoria had the highest number of crashes with 728, followed by Nanaimo with 581, Saanich with 357 and Langford with 238.
“Driving in winter is different from other times of the year and it’s more dangerous,” Trace Acres, program director for Road Safety at Work and spokesperson for the Shift into Winter safety awareness campaign said in a news release.
Snow, ice, rain fog, colder temperatures, black ice, reduced visibility and fewer daylight hours can all contribute to road hazards that “challenge even the most experienced drivers.”
“No one is a perfect driver. You can’t always predict how your vehicle or other vehicles will react in winter conditions,” Acres said. “The best gift you can give your family this year is to get home to them safely.”
Tips to drive safely in the winter include:
- Avoid driving in poor road conditions.
- Install four matched winter tires on your vehicle.
- Adjust your driving to the road conditions — drive slower than the posted speed limit when necessary.
- Ensure all the snow is cleared from your vehicles and all windows are fully defrosted before driving.
- Do not get distracted and give driving your full attention.
- Watch for changes to the route, like work zones.
- Carry an emergency kit.
“There’s no question that risks increase as the weather deteriorates, and we ask drivers to do their part by making sure their vehicle is equipped for winter driving – including winter tires – and following other great safety tips from Shift into Winter,” Rob Fleming, ministry of transportation and infrastructure, said in a news release.
“That includes checking DriveBC for the latest on road conditions and avoiding unnecessary travel when conditions are poor.”
Additionally, employers are reminded they are responsible for their employee’s safety when driving for work — even if they are using their personal vehicles.
WorkSafeBC deems vehicles used for work as workplaces, so they need to meet occupational health and safety regulations.
Employers are responsible for ensuring employees are aware of hazards on the road, are trained and have equipment and supervision to stay safe.
Employees have the right to refuse to drive in unsafe conditions.
“While driving is a routine in many jobs, it can be one of the most dangerous parts of the workday — even under optimal conditions,” Todd McDonald, head of prevention services for WorkSafeBC said in a news release.
“As winter weather approaches, employers should involve workers in understanding the risks and provide additional support to help them safely navigate the hazards of winter driving. This includes making sure workers are properly trained, their vehicles are in safe operating condition, their loads are secure, and their company’s risk assessments, policies, and procedures are in place and up to date.”