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Heavy snow increases risk of crashing for Prince George drivers

Winter is Mother Nature’s road test in BC. And right now, it’s testing Prince George and other Interior drivers with an extended storm bringing heavy snow and near-zero visibility.

The conditions will make driving for work or pleasure even more hazardous, even for experienced drivers.

“Winter weather like this and road conditions push our driving skills to the limit,” says Trace Acres, spokesperson for the annual Shift into Winter campaign.

“The critical zone for driving safety in cold weather falls between 5C to -5C so keep an eye on the thermometer before heading out. You have to watch out for yourself and for others sliding into your path.”

Icy conditions make it harder to steer and stop. Driving too fast for the conditions increases the risk of crashing.

The good news is that most crashes are preventable.

The first line of defence is having four matched winter tires in good condition on the vehicle. They provide better traction and stopping than other tires at temperatures below 7C. They’re required on most B.C. highways until the end of winter and must have a minimum tread depth of 3.5 mm (5/32”).

Shift into Winter recommends using three-peaked mountain and snowflake tires. Their natural rubber compound helps them to stay soft and flexible in colder temperatures.

Here are other tips to help you make it safely to your destination on snowy or icy roads.

  • Know before you go

Check current road and weather conditions on or local reports to make sure your route is safe. If it’s not, postpone the trip if possible.

  • Slow down

The posted speed limit is the maximum speed under ideal driving conditions. Winter conditions are far from ideal, especially with near-zero visibility. So it’s safer to drive below the posted speed. It’s especially important to slow down when approaching an intersection. Stopping takes longer on icy roads.

  • Increase following distance

Always look ahead when driving and keep at least four seconds of distance between you and the car in front. Increase the distance if conditions are poor or if the driving includes more treacherous stretches like hills or sharp curves.

  • Watch for black ice

The thin, almost invisible coating forms when it’s near freezing. Slow down when approaching areas prone to icing such as shaded areas, bridges, and overpasses. If there’s ice build-up on your windshield, it’s a clue that black ice is probably on the road. Also watch for sections of the road that appear black and shiny.

  • Avoid sudden moves

Start slowly and accelerate gradually to maintain traction and avoid spinning your wheels. When stopping, plan well in advance, apply the brakes gently and slowly add pressure. Never brake suddenly.

  • Know how to handle a skid

Smooth steering is the key to recovering. Always ease off the brake or accelerator and look and steer in the direction you want to go. Be careful not to over-steer. If you’re on ice and skidding in a straight line, step on the clutch or shift to neutral.

  • See and be seen

Always clear all windows, lights, mirrors, hood and the roof. Allow windows to defrost completely before driving so you have clear visibility. Use winter windshield wiper blades in good condition. Make sure your lights are on.

For people who drive for work, being behind the wheel may be the most dangerous part of their job regardless of the time of year. It doesn’t matter whether they drive full time, part time, or only occasionally. Work-related crashes are the leading cause of traumatic workplace deaths in the province throughout the year.

The 14th annual Shift into Winter campaign aims to reduce the number of winter-related crashes, injuries, and deaths on B.C. roads. It is supported by the Winter Driving Safety Alliance and managed by Road Safety at Work.

Visit for more tips on safe driving in winter conditions.

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