Here’ how to avoid the top 3 winter driving problems we saw last year

We all know that BC doesn’t usually get a lot of snow—until last winter that is— when many of us were caught off guard with even heavier snowfalls, icier roads and colder temperatures—all lasting for a longer winter season. Remember the havoc it caused? Ugh! (Shudder).

When it came to driving, BCAA roadside assistance techs were out there, 24/7, helping our Members and stranded motorists. The top three problems we saw? Cars unprepared and with the wrong tires, driving too fast for the conditions, or inexperienced.

This year, we want to help you avoid getting caught off guard. Here are tips to help you stay safe.

1. Prepare your car—and do it ahead of time

Tires. Each winter, particularly last year, we see cars sliding off the road or getting stuck in snow or icy areas. Tires with the mountain peak and snowflake or M+S (mud and snow) symbols meet BC’s winter tire laws. Equip your car with proper tires (all four matching) to ensure you have enough traction for snow and ice. Starting October 1, BC’s winter tire rules have kicked in and winter tires are required on many highways throughout the province. Look for this sign, which tells you if you’re on one of the designated highways.

winter driving prep image

Pro check-up. We saw a rise in calls from motorists, stranded due to a dead battery. Cold conditions can weaken a battery and cause it to fail. So take your car in for a winter check-up with an automotive professional, which includes checks on the battery, wipers and fluids, belts and hoses and oil.

BCAA’s Auto Service Centre offers a complete 42-point inspection with every service, winter tire changeovers and warranty-approved service by Red Seal Certified Technicians. Find a location and learn what extras BCAA Members get!

Winter driving emergency items: Windshield scraper, snow brush, shovel, spare container of winter-grade washer fluid, set of warm clothes, extra winter boots, gloves, blanket, bottled water and energy bars, first-aid kit and anti-freeze lock lubricant (to keep in your pocket or bag when you leave your car). And sunglasses! When it’s sunny, the glare from icy or wet roads can be blinding.

2. Match your driving—and attitude—to the conditions

BCAA roadside assistance helped tow and recover many drivers and their cars last winter. When winter hits, it’s important for us to drive according to road and weather conditions, and not necessarily the speed limit. When the weather gets bad, especially when it snows, it’s best to drive slower, leave more room between you and the car ahead and avoid problem areas such as hills, unplowed areas and narrow streets. It’s also important for all of us to be more patient on the road and give ourselves extra time to avoid rushing.

3. Be honest about your driving skills and comfort level

It’s no surprise that many of us aren’t used to driving in snowy and icy weather—extreme winters just haven’t typically happened often in BC. It’s important to know when we shouldn’t drive, perhaps because we have less winter driving experience or we’re too nervous—nothing wrong with that! When it comes down to it, extreme winter weather can make driving a challenge, even for the most experienced driver.

Source: BCAA

2017 Ajusto survey: The Desjardins program is making better drivers

A recent survey of Ajusto users confirms that, since Desjardins launched the program in 2013, it has helped improve the way people drive.

Safer drivers
The majority of respondents (close to 75%) said they had improved their driving by sticking closer to speed limits and by avoiding sharp acceleration, braking and cornering. Also, 76% of them said they feel that Ajusto helps improve road safety.

“I’m really proud of the results. We’re committed to helping improve road safety and preventing accidents. These results confirm that focusing on prevention is the key to making that happen,” said Denis Dubois, President and COO of Desjardins General Insurance Group.

Satisfied users

  • 91% of respondents said they were satisfied with the program as a whole.
  • Since the program was launched, users have saved an average of 10% on their auto insurance premium. Almost 80% of survey respondents said they were satisfied with their discount.

Drivers get rewarded sooner
Recent analysis has shown that after using Ajusto for only three months, a person’s driving can be mapped sufficiently to assign a representative score. As a result, Desjardins has shortened the data collection period to just 100 days. Now clients don’t have to wait for their policy renewal to enjoy the savings. Instead, they get their discount at the end of the 100-day period. An example of how Desjardins listened to feedback from clients to improve their offer.

Ajusto users can also continue to get driving feedback through the smartphone app called Desjardins Insurance Home-Auto, The Personal or State Farm Canada. Clients can use the app to sign up for the Ajusto and Alert programs. The app also includes features that allow clients to view their insurance policy, change their address, store a vehicle, get a quote and even start a claim.

Desjardins will continue to develop its mobile offer, providing added benefits for its policyholders. In fact, 9 out of 10 survey respondents thought new technologies (telematics, smart devices and apps) added value for customers.

As a reminder, the Ajusto program is available to drivers in Ontario and Quebec who insure their vehicle with Desjardins Insurance, The Personal or State Farm Canada (under the name Telematics). With Ajusto, policyholders can save up to 25% on their auto insurance premium based on their actual driving habits. The discount is calculated by measuring four criteria: driving smoothness (avoiding sharp acceleration, braking and cornering), speed, time of day and distance driven.

About Desjardins General Insurance Group
A subsidiary of Desjardins Group, Desjardins General Insurance Group (DGIG) is Canada’s third largest provider of property and casualty insurance. The company distributes insurance under the Desjardins Insurance, The Personal, and State Farm Canada brands. DGIG is also a leader in Canada in white label distribution.

SOURCE Desjardins Groupe d’assurances générales

#HeadsUp, Saskatchewan – Distracted driving is always a bad call

Picking up your phone while driving to let your friend know you’re running late? That’s a bad call. It’s illegal, dangerous and may cost you – there might be a police officer watching from a bus or an unmarked vehicle in the next lane, and the fines and penalties are stiff.

Distracted driving is the focus of October’s Traffic Safety Spotlight. Throughout the month, police across the province will be using a variety of tactics to catch distracted drivers in the act, including surveillance from unmarked vehicles and plainclothes officers on the sidewalks. Regina Police Service is running “Operation Bus Cop,” with eagle-eye officers watching for distracted drivers from city buses.

Police will be on the lookout for people using handheld cellphones to talk, text, email or browse online while driving. But distracted driving isn’t just limited to using a phone.

“Drivers are still not getting the message. If you are in control of a vehicle, anything that takes your attention away from the road is dangerous,” said Superintendent Brian Shalovelo, Saskatoon Police Service. “If someone says they were picking up a CD on the floor when they lost control, that is distracted driving. Changing the radio station, smoking a cigarette, reading a map or your mail – these are all examples of how a driver can be distracted. We’ve even seen people watching Netflix while driving.”

“The average car or lightweight truck weighs over four thousand pounds,” said Chief Evan Bray, Regina Police Service. “That is two tons of comfort and convenience to get you to your destination…or it’s two tons of steel and glass that can take your life, or someone else’s, if you lose control. Is there any text message, photo or music selection in the world that could be more important than a human life?”

“The message is simple: put the phone away and encourage your friends and family to do the same,” said Earl Cameron, Executive Vice President of the Auto Fund. “Put it out of reach in your glove box, zip it up in your purse and put it in the back seat, or mount it on your dashboard and use it hands-free if you’re an experienced driver. We all have a responsibility to make safe choices behind the wheel.”

It is illegal for drivers in Saskatchewan to use, view, hold or manipulate a cellphone while driving. This means that, even if you’re simply holding a cellphone and not using it, you can still be charged. Drivers caught using their cellphone while driving for the second time within one year will have the vehicle they are driving seized for seven days. Experienced drivers can only use a cellphone if it is mounted to their visor or dash, and they use the voice-activated or one-touch functions. Learner and novice drivers are not allowed to use a cellphone of any kind, not even hands-free.

The penalty for distracted driving is a $280 fine and four demerit points under SGI’s Safe Driver Recognition program.

Everyone can drive free of distractions by following these tips:

  • Don’t use your cellphone, even at a red light – the law applies whenever you’re in control of a vehicle.
  • Put the phone away – silence your phone and put it out of reach before getting behind the wheel.
  • Focus on driving – limit distractions like eating, grooming, or having emotional conversations with passengers.
  • Have a designated texter – let your passenger reply to messages and operate the radio and GPS.
  • Pull over first – if you need to make a call or take care of children or pets, don’t do it while driving.
  • Call out friends and family – if you see them using a cellphone behind the wheel, speak up! It may save their life.

Visit SGI’s website at to learn more about distracted driving and the strengthened cellphone legislation.

August Traffic Safety Spotlight Results: Impaired driving

During the August spotlight on impaired driving police reported 390 impaired driving offences, including 334 Criminal Code charges.

Police also reported:

  • 4,243 tickets for speeding or aggressive driving
  • 360 tickets for inappropriate or no seatbelt/child restraint
  • 459 tickets for distracted driving (including 342 for cellphone use)

Using a toonie to check your winter tire tread

This video first ran in December 2011.

We asked our viewers to send us their questions and concerns about winter tires, and we posed those to tire expert Paul Luciano, co-owner of CP Tire in Carleton Place, Ontario. Janet from Alberta asks, “How long will my treads last, and is there a way I can test them?”

Paul Luciano: About average (mileage) is 18,000 to 25,000 kilometers a year and I would say three good seasons. You’ll probably still have tread remaining on those snow tires, but they won’t have the same traction as they did when they were new.

This tire measures about 60 percent worn and less than 6/32s of tread. An all-season tire brand new will come with approximately 11/32s to 13/32s, depending on the manufacturer. The tread depth is that much. In order for this tire to pass the safety, we require 4/32s of tread above the wear bar which is right here. This tire would actually pass a safety if it had an even 4/32s of tread across the face of the tire. But, like all tires, the bottom section of the tread lug is significantly harder than the top. When you get down to this depth of tread, although still serviceable in dry weather, it’s not so good in wet or cold.

Not everyone carries around a professional device for measuring tread depth, but there is a simple trick most of us can use with a good old toonie.

Paul Luciano: 12/32s of rubber, if you’re testing the depth of your new tires, should reach the paws of the polar bear on the toonie. At 50 percent wear, which is approximately 7/32s of tread, if you put your toonie into the tire tread, at 50 percent will cover the nickel part of the toonie. At 4/32s of tread, at which the tire would not be very good in winter driving although would still have tread on it, would just partially cover the letters of the word “dollars” on your toonie.


Drivers urged to prepare for changing road conditions during the first long weekend of fall

Whether travelling around town or across the province for Thanksgiving gatherings this long weekend, ICBC is urging drivers to be prepared for seasonal changes that could create adverse road conditions.

B.C. sees about 2,000 crashes every Thanksgiving long weekend that, on average, result in 600 injuries and four fatalities.

ICBC offers the following tips for drivers:

  • Plan your route ahead of time. The weather can be unpredictable on highways and at higher elevations; plan ahead to make your trip as safe as possible. Check road and weather conditions before your trip at With more holiday weekend traffic, allow extra time to get to your destination.

  • Check if you need winter tires. Drivers are required to use winter tires on some B.C. highwaysWinter tires are labelled with either the mountain/snowflake symbol or the mud and snow (M&S designation).

  • Slow down on wet roads. Allow yourself at least twice the normal braking distance on wet and slippery roads or on roads covered in leaves to give yourself time to stop. The posted speed limits are only intended for ideal conditions.

  • Check your tires to avoid hydroplaning. Tires with lower tread depth and low pressure are more likely to hydroplane. To prevent hydroplaning, check your tires for proper tread and inflation, scan ahead for large puddles and reduce your speed, especially during heavy rain.

  • Watch for pedestrians. With shorter days and reduced visibility, be vigilant around intersections and watch for pedestrians. October marks the first month of the season where crashes involving pedestrians peak. In addition to pedestrians, be on the lookout for cyclists and other road users.

Regional statistics*:

  • About 450 people are injured in 1,300 crashes in the Lower Mainland over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

  • About 75 people are injured in 260 crashes on Vancouver Island over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

  • About 52 people are injured in 290 crashes in the Southern Interior over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

  • About 18 people are injured in 140 crashes in North Central B.C. over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

Note: *Thanksgiving weekend crashes are calculated from 18:00 the Friday prior to the holiday to midnight Monday. Fatality data is police data (5-year average, 2011-2015) and crash and injury data is ICBC data (5-year average, 2012 – 2016).

Last winter’s extreme conditions contributed to a 10% increase in motor-vehicle casualty crashes in B.C.

RICHMOND, BCOct. 2, 2017 /CNW/ – Last winter’s extreme conditions contributed to a 10 percent increase in motor-vehicle casualty crashes in B.C. between October and December, where driving too fast for the conditions was a contributing factor. This is a 10 per cent increase from 2015, when 570 casualty crashes occurred, as compared to 626 in 20161 (police-attended crashes, 2012–2016).

While last year’s weather was unusual for some parts of the province, on average, each year in British Columbia the number of casualty crashes due to driving too fast for conditions doubles in December compared to October. Between 2012 and 2016, an average of more than 260 casualty crashes occurred in December compared to approximately 130 in October (police-attended crashes, 2012-2016).

For those who drive for work, October, November and December are the most dangerous months. Almost 30 per cent of all work-related crashes resulting in injury and time-loss claims occur during these three months.

In December 2016 alone, WorkSafeBC claims from crashes that resulted in injuries and lost time from work were 38 per cent higher than in December 2015.

Depending on where you drive in the province, winter road conditions vary, from snow and ice in the north and on high mountain passes, to rain and fog commonly found in the Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island. Drivers need to prepare for the possibility of changing road and weather conditions, and adapt.

Between October 1 and March 31, most B.C. highways require passenger vehicles to have winter tires (three-peaked mountain and snowflake, or mud and snow) and commercial vehicles to carry chains. The Winter Driving Safety Alliance advises all drivers to prepare now to stay safe on the roads this winter:

  • Don’t go — If conditions are bad, postpone your trip if possible.
  • Plan your trip — If you have to travel, check road and weather conditions and select the safest route. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination to avoid rushing, and have an emergency plan if you get stuck.
  • Prepare your vehicle — Install a set of four matched winter tires and keep an emergency kit in your vehicle. Every year, be sure to give your vehicle a pre-season maintenance check-up.
  • Slow down and drive to the conditions — Even the most confident and seasoned drivers are at risk in hazardous road conditions. Slow down to match road conditions and maintain a safe following distance, at least four seconds,between you and the vehicle ahead.
  • For employers and supervisors — The Winter Driving Safety online course and Toolkit on the Shift Into Winterwebsite provides useful information for planning, implementing and monitoring a winter-driving safety program.

For more information about what you can do to stay safe while driving this winter, visit


Hon. Harry Bains, Minister of Labour –
“I encourage all drivers to keep themselves, and others who use the road, safe in the wintry months ahead. Anything a driver can do to prevent an accident from occurring, whether it’s by slowing down, abiding by road signs, or being a little more present while driving, will help to keep more people safe.”

Hon. Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure –
“We want to remind everyone to ensure their vehicle is prepped and ready for winter weather in advance. This means having proper winter tires (Mountain Snowflake or M+S tires) for certain routes, checking DriveBC before you head out, and giving yourself extra time to travel in bad weather conditions.”

Al Johnson, Vice President, Prevention Services, WorkSafeBC 
“Each and every worker in the province deserves to go home safely at the end of the day, whether they work in a fixed workplace or their office is on the road. Many BC workers who drive for work are at greater risk of injury during the winter months because driving conditions are more extreme. The Shift into Winter campaign reminds us why being prepared before road conditions deteriorate is so important – to prevent serious work-related injuries and deaths. Being prepared can save lives.”

About the Winter Driving Safety Alliance

This multi-agency working group shares a common goal of reducing the frequency and severity of winter-related motor vehicle crashes. Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. CUPE 873, BCAA, B.C. Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association, Mainroad Group, B.C. Forest Safety Council, B.C. Trucking Association, Finning, Government of B.C., Insurance Corporation of B.C., Justice Institute of British Columbia, Kal Tire, Pacific Coach Lines, RCMP, WorkSafeBC, Automotive Retailers Association, Trucking Safety Council of B.C., City of Prince George, and Tire and Rubber Association of Canada.

SOURCE Road Safety At Work

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