Police beat: Winter driving requires preparation

Although we may not want to admit it, winter is upon us here on the island.

Although we may not want to admit it, winter is upon us here on the island. With the change in seasons, we must focus on the special requirements for winter driving. After a long hot summer most of us are ill prepared to navigate the roads safely.

Too often, accidents at this time of year can be attributed to  speed relative to conditions or drivers who fail to adapt their driving habits to adverse road conditions. By giving ourselves extra time to arrive at our destinations, we can all have a better chance of arriving safe. Below are several driving tips for travel on ice and snow:

·Leave extra distance between you other motorists. This will allow extra time to react and manoeuver.

· Anticipate traffic. Look well ahead to see what traffic is doing.

· Adjust your speed. The posted speed sign is a maximum under ideal conditions.

· Practice your skills. When was the last time you had to correct a skid or stop on ice?

Now, let’s take a look at our vehicles. Despite living in the most temperate climate in Canada, we do get our fair share of winter here on Vancouver Island. There is always the potential for adverse weather at higher elevations. Have your vehicle inspected or “winterized” for the season by a qualified mechanic. Below are some items you can check yourself to ensure your vehicle is ready for winter:

·Tires. As per regulations, to travel on the majority of roads in B.C. tires must have a winter rating (ie. Mountain snowflake) or be Mud and Snow (M+S) rated. Summer tires lose their grip at temperatures below 7 degrees. Even M+S rated tires will not be as effective as winter specific tires when the temperature drops. ·Emergency kit. Even though the digital age has put global communication within reach, a tow could be a long time coming. Ensure your vehicle is equipped with safety flares, candles, blankets and a collapsible shovel. These simple items could save your life in an emergency.

Carrying a small first aid kit in the vehicle is also a good idea.

Police Beat is a column written by officers at the Port Alberni RCMP detachment.

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