ICBC survey shows B.C. drivers are unprepared for winter conditions

Published: October 31, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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A recent survey in British Columbia showed that almost half (48%) of participants “plan to or already have put winter tires on their vehicle in anticipation of another heavy winter this year,” the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) reported on Monday.

The Crown corporation auto insurance provider conducted the survey earlier this month with a advisory panel of 1,147 customer respondents. It has been a mild fall this year, but the colder weather is coming, with snow forecast in some parts of B.C. this week. ICBC says “significantly more” Lower Mainland drivers admitted to being underprepared for winter driving last year.

“Lower Mainland drivers also reported they were significantly more nervous about driving in both snowy and icy conditions,” ICBC reported.

The insurer says collisions resulting in injury or death increased by 10% last winter, compared to 2015. These accidents were caused by drivers going too fast to suit the conditions on roads. In the survey, 47% says they witnessed a collision during winter conditions in 2016 and one-quarter says they were involved in at least on “near miss”.

Drivers revealed their main concerns this winter are other drivers not adjusting their behaviour or speed in winter conditions.

The survey showed the following  top challenges for Lower Mainland drivers this winter:

  • Severe winter conditions – After last year’s severe winter, most drivers surveyed stated they had to add extra time to their daily commute and adjust their times of travel. When severe winter conditions arrive, ICBC recommends considering alternatives – take public transit if possible, carpool with a confident driver whose vehicle is equipped for the conditions, take a taxi, work from home or wait until the road crews have cleared major roads;
  • Dark and rainy conditions – Focus full attention on the road and use extra caution when approaching intersections. It can be very difficult to see pedestrians and other road users when visibility is reduced;
  • Visibility – Consider using headlights when weather is poor and visibility is reduced – not only at night – to help see ahead and be seen by other drivers. Daytime running lights usually don’t activate taillights too;
  • Fog – Turn on headlights or use fog lights if it’s very foggy. Use a defroster to keep windows clear and partially roll down a window for more visibility if needed. Use the right edge of the road or road marking as a guide;
  • Heavy rain – This can seriously reduce visibility and make road surfaces more difficult to stop on. Make sure wipers are in good condition, slow down and increase following distance to at least four seconds; and
  • Icy roads – Drivers surveyed were least confident when driving on icy roads as compared to snow and other conditions. Be aware of black ice when temperatures near freezing. If there is ice build-up on the windshield, there’s likely black ice on the road. Black ice is commonly found in shaded areas, bridges, overpasses and intersections. Slow down and increase following distance.