During the holidays, an average of 340 people are injured in 1,200 crashes in B.C.* That’s 22 crashes and six people injured every hour from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day alone.
On Vancouver Island, an average of 40 people are injured in 150 crashes during the Christmas holidays every year.
“With many people travelling to spend the holidays with family and friends, drivers should be prepared for the varied winter road conditions they’ll encounter,” said Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s director responsible for road safety. “We’re asking drivers to also consider their own behaviour on our busy roads by driving smart. If we want everyone to arrive safely – we need to start with our own driving.”
Here are four important questions to ask yourself:
- Is my vehicle ready? Many B.C. highways require winter tires, labelled with either the mountain/snowflake symbol or the mud and snow (M+S) designation. Check the weather conditions you could encounter for your entire route at drivebc.ca. Do a pre-trip check of your vehicle, top up wiper fluid for clearer visibility and pack an emergency kit including a blanket, food and water.
- Am I completely focused on the road? There are many potential distractions behind the wheel and in these dark, winter conditions, if you’re not fully focused, you’re putting pedestrians, drivers and passengers at risk. You’re five times more likely to crash if you’re using your hand-held phone. To combat this, make important calls and look up trip routes before you get in your car and then place your phone out of reach. If you have a long drive, use highway rest stops to take a break and check your messages – some even have complimentary Wi-Fi.
- Do I have enough space to stop safely? It takes more time and distance to come to a complete stop on wet, icy or snowy roads. That’s why posted speed limits are set for ideal conditions only. Hazards can appear at any time. You can reduce your risk of crashing by adjusting your speed for the conditions and maintaining a safe travelling distance between vehicles.
- How am I getting home? If any of your holiday party plans involve alcohol, make sure you decide how you’re getting home before you head out. There’s always at least one smart option, including choosing a designated driver or setting money aside for a taxi or public transit. Police will be looking for impaired drivers at CounterAttack roadchecks across B.C. so if you plan to drink, leave your car at home.
*Christmas holidays is defined as 6pm on Christmas Eve, December 24 to midnight on Boxing Day, December 26.
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