British Columbians are the worst winter drivers in the country, according to a new survey conducted by the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA).
“Call it overconfidence or denial but, based on our data and in my experience, too many British Columbians, especially in the Lower Mainland, don’t think about winter driving until it’s too late,” said BCAA’s Stu Miller.
The survey of 700 BC residents found that more than half (52 per cent) of those polled think that BC drivers are the worst in the country when it comes to driving in the snow and in winter conditions. 47 per cent of BCers said they are nervous about driving in snow but will drive anyway, with a full one-third admitting to “freaking out a little bit” over snow driving. By a wide margin (71 per cent) BC drivers exclaimed that winter driving is not a concern for them because they believe it “doesn’t snow much where they live.”
Miller says that he sees unprepared drivers all the time, even in the lower Mainland where snowfall is infrequent. “Winter weather can create unpredictable road conditions anywhere and at any time, which can turn out to be challenging for even the most experienced driver,” says Miller.
The results echo those from a similar public perception poll conducted earlier this year which asked residents across the country to report on the number of unsafe driving incidents they’d witnessed over the past month, such as a driver not stopping at an intersection when required or not signalling when required.
For most types of incidents, BC drivers came out near the top of each category, including 48 per cent of BC respondents saying that they had witnessed what they would judge to be a “close call” during the past month, such as having to slam on the brakes or steer violently to avoid a crash. On average, 39 per cent of Canadians reported having witnessed a close call in the past month.
A recent survey from the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada found that Canadians are preparing for winter more thoroughly this year than in the past, with drivers now installing snow tires in “record numbers.” The survey reported that 61 per cent of those polled outside of Quebec (where snow tires are mandatory) now say they use winter tires. In BC, 49 per cent of residents say they are putting on winter tires, up from 38 per cent in 2014.
This winter, BC drivers can make use of a new, free app to help plan their trips along the province’s roads. Called BCHighways, the app will provide real-time access to provincial highway information on issues such as road closures, planned roadwork and extreme weather conditions. “It will tell you driving conditions all over the province,” says Transportation Minister Todd Stone in conversation with the Ashcroft Cache Creek Journal. “And it has the added capacity of being very specific about the real-time driving conditions within 50 kilometres of where you are.”
The Ministry of Transportation notes that the app, which will also provide border crossing wait times, should only be used before starting your trip or during pauses en route and that the use of any handheld electronic device while driving is prohibited under the province’s distracted driving law.