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Forest Safety News – Winter Driving

Dec 21, 2021

Exploring BC’s back roads does not need to be limited to the fairer months.  Winter provides the perfect opportunity to explore these out of the way places and see them in a new perspective, in crisp winter light and perhaps even a dusting of snow.  However, whether you are embarking on this journey professionally or recreationally, there are several things that need consideration and preparation to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. 

As the driver of the vehicle you have a great deal of responsibility. Your are responsible for the safety of the vehicle, its occupants, your load if you are hauling one, as well as other drivers sharing the road.  As such, it is important that each journey be treated with careful, methodical planning and consideration.  This requires you to have a thorough understanding of your vehicle and the conditions which your are venturing into. 

Preparation is key when planning a trip in winter conditions. Before setting out on your journey, it’s a good idea to go through a check list to ascertain if all the requirements have been met to ensure a safe and successful trip.  Such a list should include but not be limited to having the correct temperature rated lubricants, oils, and fluids, proper winter tires, chains, emergency supplies, and a battery in good working order.   

Safety should also be a main consideration when planning these trips.  Both recreation and professional drivers should take the risk factors into account before embarking on a journey.  Knowing the weather forecast as well as road and avalanche conditions is a must.  This information will help determine whether the driver has the necessary skills and experience to handle the challenges or if other considerations need to be made such as the addition of a second driver and/or a lighter load. 

The skill of the driver and the quality of the vehicle counts for little if you do not have the correct winter tires. Regular all-season and all-terrain tires are not recommended, as they are not designed for operation in the colder winter temperatures that can be encountered at higher altitudes.  Tires with chains remain the best solution for those who must navigate winter roads regularly.  The proper tires will not only provide better tractions, but will also greatly improve stoppage distances, both of which are crucial when driving in challenging winter conditions.  When choosing chains,  make sure they are the right size for your tire and that they are correctly installed taking care that any extra chain is properly secured and cannot interfere with brake lines, axles, or any wheel sensors.  

Winter driving in BC’s back road can be challenging.  Weather and road conditions can change quickly and unexpectedly.  Thus, being prepared and well equipped is essential for a safe and successful journey.  Creating a check list, being aware of the weather and road conditions, performing pre and post-trip vehicle inspections, as well as an honest evaluation of your level of skill cannot be under stressed.  With the above considerations taken into account, you can now navigate these roads less traveled with a peace of mind and sense of security allowing your to relax and settle into the journey. 

Check out the original FULL article in the September 2020 Forest Safety News on pages 12-13.