British Columbia’s winter driving season is upon us, and for those who drive to work, it represents the most dangerous time of the year on the roads. No matter where you’re based in the province, winter brings with it challenging road conditions, ranging from snow and ice, to rain and fog, and increased hours of night-time driving.
Almost 30 per cent of all work-related crashes resulting in injury and time-loss claims occur during this period. And, as an employer, you have health and safety responsibilities to your staff in this area. The following information will help you reduce the risks you and your workers face when driving this winter.
Meeting your Health and Safety Responsibilities
British Columbia’s Workers Compensation Act, and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations contain legal requirements that must be met by all workplaces under the jurisdiction of WorkSafeBC. As an employer, here are the actions you must take to ensure workers are safe when driving for work, even if it’s their personal vehicle.
- You have a legal responsibility to establish and maintain an effective safety program that addresses the risks and hazards faced by your workers when driving either a company or personal vehicle for work.
- Familiarize yourself with the requirements of the BC Motor Vehicle Act and associated regulations.
- You need to ensure that any employee driving for work in winter conditions is qualified to do so and has a vehicle that can safely handle winter road and weather conditions.
Planning your Trips
Winter driving in British Columbia takes a bit more thought than other times of year. The minutes you invest in researching conditions and routes could be the difference between a pleasant journey, and one fraught with difficulties.
- Whenever possible, take the opportunity to eliminate or reduce unnecessary trips. Cancel, delay or reroute trips to avoid or minimize exposure to poor driving conditions. Make your safety expectations clear when it comes to driving for work during winter conditions.
- If your staff must drive, direct or assist them to plan the safest route and schedule additional time to avoid the need to rush. Insist on an emergency plan in case they get stuck or into difficulty.
- Visit ca before any trips and check the road and weather conditions throughout the province.
Ensuring Vehicle Safety
One of the easiest ways to cut down on risk this winter is to ensure you and your staff’s vehicles are winter ready. A prepared vehicle means a safer ride with less potential for any unwelcome surprises. Here are some tips for preparing to drive in winter:
- Conduct and document a start-of-shift vehicle inspection
- Get a pre-winter vehicle check up
- Remove all snow and ice from windows, lights, mirrors and surfaces before driving
- Install four matched winter tires with the three-peaked mountain and snowflake symbol for better traction in cold weather
- Keep gas tanks full to prevent fuel lines from freezing
- Keep a winter survival kit in each vehicle (see the Shift into winter website for further details)
Drive for the Road Conditions
Driving in winter conditions can be both challenging and frustrating. Rapid changes in elevation and weather lead to unpredictable highway conditions throughout British Columbia. Taking note of the following tips will keep you as safe as possible behind the wheel.
- Drop speed to match road conditions. The posted speed is the maximum speed under ideal road conditions.
- Maintain a safe following distance – at least four seconds. It takes longer to stop on a slippery road.
- Learn or be trained in winter driving skills.
- Take steps to ensure the safety of other road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and roadside workers.