The annual BCAA Winter Driving Survey shows that despite close to half (43%) of motorists experiencing a winter driving incident last year, the majority (63%) have no plans to do more to prepare this year.
For Dave Weloy, BCAA Road Assist Senior Safety Manager, the findings are concerning. “Last year’s conditions were the worst that BCAA has seen in decades,” he says. “I’m shocked that despite the thousands of rescues we made, drivers still aren’t convinced they need to do more in terms of planning. The weather is pretty unpredictable these days; anything can happen.”
The most common winter-driving related incidents experienced by B.C. drivers last year were skidding on black ice and getting stuck in a snowy street or driveway. When B.C. motorists were asked why they thought drivers were getting into difficulties, the top reasons include: having the wrong tires or tires in poor condition, inadequate winter driving skills and weather or road conditions being worse than drivers realized.
Drivers also admitted to taking risks, with 43 per cent saying they drove in snowy conditions despite feeling nervous, and 42 per cent admitting they drove in unsafe conditions. Notably, most drivers who chose to drive in unsafe conditions were 18 to 34 years old (58%).
When asked why they feel the need to drive in harsh winter conditions, 44 per cent of B.C. drivers say they feel pressured to get somewhere to fulfill an obligation.
BCAA reminds drivers that snow is not the only condition that makes winter driving challenging. “Black ice, colder temperatures, heavy rain and more darkness can put people’s safety at risk,” says Weloy. “Based on decades of experience, our advice is to get your car ready – have the right tires, adjust your driving habits to match the conditions and have a plan in case it’s too difficult or dangerous to drive. No obligation is worth risking a life,” he says.
Common problems BCAA saw last year
- Cars sliding off the road or getting stuck due to not having winter tires or using tires with worn out tread.
- Cars stuck in challenging areas such as hills, unplowed streets, unshovelled driveways or busy parking lots.
- Cars unable to stop in time and sliding into something or off the road.
- Flat or underinflated tires.
- Dead batteries.
BCAA Winter Driving Tips
- Get your car prepared with a winter check-up which includes installing four winter tires that are properly inflated and in good condition with adequate tread depth. Check your tire pressure often, especially when weather fluctuates as air pressure decreases in cold weather.
- Adjust your driving habits to match the conditions. Slow down, leave more room between you and the car ahead and avoid problem areas such as hills and narrow unplowed streets.
- Shovel your driveway each time it snows and check the condition of side streets. Many calls for roadside assistance are for cars stuck getting in and out of driveways or on side streets that are typically not plowed.
- Minimize how frequently you have to drive and know when not to drive
- Carry winter driving emergency items in your car, including: reflective safety vest and roadside equipment such as cones, battery jumper cables, a shovel, windshield scraper and brush, flashlight with fully charged batteries, highly visible winter outerwear, warm clothes, winter boots, gloves, blanket, supply of non-perishable food and water, as well as a spare container of winter-grade washer fluid.
About the survey
Conducted by Insights West, the results are based on an online study conducted from November 6 to November 10, 2017, among 735 adult residents of British Columbia who have a valid driver’s license and drive at least one hour a week. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/ 3.7 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty. Click here to view the detailed data tabulations.
The most trusted organization in British Columbia by its Members, BCAA serves 1 in 3 B.C. households with industry-leading products including home, car and travel insurance, roadside assistance, Evo Car Share and full automotive services at BCAA’s Auto Service Centres. BCAA has a long history focused on keeping kids safe on the road and at play through community programs such as its School Safety Patrol, Community Child Car Seat Program and BCAA Play Here. Please visit bcaa.com.