Driving road tests and driving lessons were cancelled for some learners in Prince Rupert last week due to the inclement weather. Road conditions were just too bad to risk health and safety.
Ely Abecia, owner and instructor of Rainbow Driving School in Prince Rupert said drivers need to use common sense in winter conditions. Abecia, who has owned the driving school for over 15 years, works closely with the driving examiners and the decision was made to cancel lessons and some road tests due to unfavourable conditions.
The weather conditions in P.R. last week and forecasted for this week are not common Abcecia said. With thick slush and compacted snow covering ice layers, drivers need to slow down, but not hold up traffic behind them. In his 42 years of living in Prince Rupert he has seen conditions like this less than ten times.
Abecia said the number one recommendation he can provide its that common sense is required, by even experienced drivers, when on the roads in winter .“You already know its slippery, so use common sense and drive for the conditions, “ he said.
The best way to stay safe under the extreme weather is to avoid driving all together according to Drive B.C. Rapid changes in elevation and weather can make road and highway driving unpredictable during the winter. The winter driving season in B.C. is from Oct. 1, to March 31. Winter tires are mandatory.
When driving can not be avoided, “good winter tires are necessary,” said Abecia, “studded tires are better if possible.” When going down hill breaks should be applied early. “Use your gears. Even in an automatic vehicle use lower gears,” said Abecia, “That way you don’t need too much pressure on your break.” By using a lower gear the engine does the work for the car.
The Canada Safety Council advises drivers to ensure their vehicle is prepared for winter and to drive smoothly. Drivers should learn how to control skids and not tail gate. Definitely do not use cruise control in winter conditions because if the car hydroplanes it will accelerate and may cause loss of control.
It is advised, by Drive B.C. when driving in an avalanche area, as seen between Prince Rupert and Terrace, if an avalanche has blocked the highway try to turn around and drive to a safe area. If you can not, then remain in your vehicle with your seat belt to wait for assistance. Do not attempt to drive through and avalanche regardless of the size.
Government of Canada and Drive B.C. web sites have several tip sheets and pointers for winter drivers. There is also a free online winter driving course, supported by the Justice Institute of British Columbia for employers and health and safety committees to utilize when employees need to drive as part of their employment. at www.shiftintowinter.ca. Reminders to drivers to stay safe, listed on the government website include, turning on your lights even during day-time hours, obey winter tire and chain up signs, and carry an emergency kit.