It's that time of year again! The days are getting shorter, there's a coolness in the air, and in most places in the Northern hemisphere, you are probably watching the weather so you get your winter tires on in time for the first snowfall...if it hasn't happened already.
But while most of us are complaining about the impact winter weather will soon have on our daily activities, one Canadian province is using its voice to remind us all of what we can do to make the transition safer for everyone out on the road.
#ShiftIntoWinter is taking British Columbia by storm and moving them towards a safer winter driving environment. Led by Road Safety At Work, and supported by multiple high-level organizations, their aim is to improve the safety of drivers during the winter months.
Al Johnson, the Vice President of Prevention Services at WorkSafeBC, believes the campaign is bigger than just safe driving. It's about saving lives.
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 BC workers who drive for work are at greater risk of injury during the winter months because driving conditions are more extreme. The Shift into Winter campaign reminds us why being prepared before road conditions deteriorate is so important – to prevent serious work-related injuries and deaths. Being prepared can save lives.
Between 2012 and 2016, the average number of casualty crashes reported was 260, while in the month of October alone, the number was closer to 130. However, last year was a particularly bad winter in BC, and many drivers were both surprised and unprepared for the road conditions they faced. This, unfortunately, led to an increase of 38 percent in accidents that resulted in injuries and lost time from work over December 2015.
What can you do to make the Shift Into Winter?
Even though you can't control the weather, you can still control a number of other conditions that can prevent or minimize the damage in an accident.
- Put on your winter tires. Only 61 percent of Canadians, outside of Quebec, use winter tires, despite the evidence that they can stop shorter than all-season tires by 30 percent. All vehicles in Quebec are required by law to be equipped with winter from December 15th to March 15.
- Learn winter road skills. Learn how to properly handle your car in the winter, including how to break on icy roads and how to get out of a skid. If you are driving for work and are not comfortable with the conditions, ask your employer for winter driving training.
- Know before you go. Check the weather and road conditions to avoid any surprises along the way. This will allow you to plan the safest and clearest route, alter any travel dates or times, avoid road closures, and determine if you need to make overnight stops to get out of bad weather. Don't forget to give your trip details to someone you trust.
- Keep an emergency supply kit in your vehicle.You never know what kind of weather you might get stuck in. Make sure that you have a fully stocked emergency kit in case you get lost or stuck in winter conditions. Some important things to have on hand include non-perishable food, water, jumper cables, a cell phone charger and a shovel.
It is also a good tell someone you trust where you are going, which route you're taking and when you expect to get there. Keep a fully charged cell phone and charger with you, and update them on your progress as you stop for rest breaks.
Currently a BC initiative, we think everyone can benefit from the message behind Shift Into Winter. This annual campaign kicks off on October 1st and runs through March 31st, giving drivers and employers a wealth of advice and tools to help cope with all the different stages of BC winters. Because of the multiple climates in the province, almost anyone can find tips and information on safe driving for their area, both in BC and beyond!
A large campaign resource package that includes social media content, advertising images, and ideas for promotional activities is available for free on their website and includes everything you need to spread the message about safe winter driving.
The Shift Into Winter campaign is sponsored by the following BC provincial organizations
- Government of BC
- Justice Institute of British Columbia
- BC Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association
- Insurance Corporation of BC
...as well as the Winter Driving Safety Alliance Partners.