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October to December most dangerous time for workplace driving

B.C. group offers top 4 tips for safe winter driving
driving in a snow storm
Traffic sits in a heavy snow storm after the Sea to Sky Highway was closed south of Squamish, B.C. on Feb. 17, 2011. REUTERS/Andy Clark

According to WorkSafeBC, almost 30 per cent of all work-related crashes resulting in injury and time-loss claims occur during October, November and December. In December 2016 alone, WorkSafeBC claims from crashes that resulted in injuries and lost time from work were 38 per cent higher than in December 2015.

“Each and every worker in the province deserves to go home safely at the end of the day, whether they work in a fixed workplace or their office is on the road. Many B.C. workers who drive for work are at greater risk of injury during the winter months because driving conditions are more extreme,” said Al Johnson, vice-president, prevention services, WorkSafeBC

Last winter’s extreme conditions contributed to a 10 per cent increase in motor vehicle casualty crashes in British Columbia between October and December, where driving too fast for the conditions was a contributing factor. In 2015,  570 casualty crashes occurred, as compared to 626 in 2016, according to Police Traffic Accident Systems Data.

While last year’s weather was unusual for some parts of the province, on average, each year in British Columbia the number of casualty crashes due to “driving too fast for the conditions” doubles in December compared to October. Between 2012-16, an average of more than 260 casualty crashes occurred in December compared to approximately 130 in October.

Winter road conditions vary across British Columbia, from snow and ice in the north and on high mountain passes, to rain and fog commonly found in the Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island. Drivers need to prepare for the possibility of changing road and weather conditions and adapt, said WorkSafeBC.

Between October 1 and March 31, most B.C. highways require passenger vehicles to have winter tires (three-peaked mountain and snowflake, or mud and snow) and commercial vehicles to carry chains. The Winter Driving Safety Alliance offers the following tips to stay safe on the roads this winter:

•Don’t go — If conditions are bad, postpone your trip if possible.

•Plan your trip — If you have to travel, check road and weather conditions and select the safest route. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination to avoid rushing, and have an emergency plan if you get stuck.

•Prepare your vehicle — Install a set of four matched winter tires and keep an emergency kit in your vehicle. Every year, be sure to give your vehicle a pre-season maintenance check-up.

• Slow down and drive to the conditions — Even the most confident and seasoned drivers are at risk in hazardous road conditions. Slow down to match road conditions and maintain a safe following distance, at least four seconds, between you and the vehicle ahead.

B.C.’s Shift into Winter campaign offers useful resources for employers around planning, implementing and monitoring a winter-driving safety program.

“I encourage all drivers to keep themselves, and others who use the road, safe in the wintry months ahead. Anything a driver can do to prevent an accident from occurring, whether it’s by slowing down, abiding by road signs, or being a little more present while driving, will help to keep more people safe,” said Minister of Labour Harry Bains.

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