DAILY NEWS Jan 2, 2013 9:23 AM - 0 comments

Drivers urged to take care during winter months

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The Insurance Corporation of B.C. (ICBC) has urged drivers to be prepared for challenging winter weather, reminding them just days before Christmas that December is traditionally a months that sees more crashes on British Columbia roads.

Winter driving

ICBC reported last month that, on average, 34 people are killed and 7,110 injured in about 4,740 vehicle crashes every December. By region, there is an average of nine people killed and 4,650 injured in 3,130 crashes in the Lower Mainland; an average of five people killed and 970 injured in 660 crashes on Vancouver Island; an average of 13 people killed and 1,060 injured in 680 crashes in the Southern Interior; and an average of eight people killed and 410 injured in 260 crashes in North Central B.C.

The lessons learned in December can be applied to winter overall. “Drivebc.ca is a valuable resource and allows drivers to see what road conditions they might face on their trip so they can feel confident that they’re well-prepared to get to their destination safely,” Mary Polak, B.C.’s transportation and infrastructure minister, said in the ICBC statement last month.

John Dickinson, the agency’s director of road safety, recommended that motorists be prepared by taking preventive steps, including the following:

*           check the road and weather conditions on drivebc.ca for the entire route to be prepared for all weather conditions and allow for extra time if necessary;

*           use winter tires if living in or travelling to an area that is normally expected to have a lot of snow (motorists may be ticketed or ordered to turn back if vehicles are not equipped with snow tires on designed roads and highways); and

*           check tire pressure before leaving since tires can deflate quickly in the cold and overinflated tires can reduce gripping, use low-beam lights in snowy conditions, do not use cruise control on slippery roads, keep the gas tank full to prevent freezing in extreme temperatures, and bring an emergency kit.

A custom online survey – commissioned by TD Insurance, conducted by Environics Research Group and released last month – shows that a quarter of polled drivers admit feeling scared, anxious or uneasy when driving in winter. However, many drivers are not taking all of the precautions they can to stay safe and remain calm, notes the Winter Driving Poll, which includes responses from 1,005 Canadian residents 18 and older who have driven a motor vehicle on Canadian roads in the past 12 months.

In all, 60% of respondents do not carry an emergency kit in their cars; 38% do not get their cars serviced before the season begins; and 36% do not use snow tires in winter, despite 71% reporting they would feel safer driving this winter if other drivers had winter tires on their cars, notes a statement from TD Insurance.

“Winter driving can be stressful for even the most experienced driver, but if you are prepared with the rights tools and knowledge, you will feel more confident and better-equipped to drive in winter weather,” says Dave Minor, vice president of TD Insurance.

Since auto insurance claims spike during the winter, Minor recommends that drivers review their policies before the season to ensure their coverage still reflects their needs. Only 12% of drivers surveyed do so before winter hits.

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