EDITORIAL: Let’s be careful out there

Driving in snowy, icy conditions can be a challenge, so it's imperative to take extra time, exercise caution and be prepared.

Semiahmoo Peninsula drivers have had it pretty good over the past few winters. What snow has fallen has melted quickly, giving way to the region’s more typical rain.

But, as this past week has clearly demonstrated, such luck doesn’t last forever. And it only takes a look at the weekend forecast to see more snow could fall in the days ahead.

Drivers who weren’t spurred to act by Monday’s unexpected dump of white stuff would be wise to take a moment and make sure their vehicles are ready for the conditions.

Motorists heading into the mountains should already be aware of the requirement for proper tires on their vehicles. They’ll carry either the “M+S” symbol for mud and snow, or the mountain-snowflake for more icy and snowy winter conditions.

Failure to have the right winter-rated tire means the possibility of a fine, increased risk and a more complicated insurance claim should a crash or collision occur.

Closer to home, the M+S tire is adequate for Peninsula streets. But the ministry of transport reminds motorists to ensure all four tires match, and that they are properly inflated.

Tires are only part of the checklist. Critical, too, is preparation.

Wiper blades should be working properly, and wiper fluid topped up. An emergency kit that includes a blanket, flashlight and first aid supplies is never a bad idea. Neither is a full fuel tank and a charged cellphone.

Obviously, one of the best ways to avoid poor conditions is to stay off the road altogether. If the conditions are bad and you don’t have to be anywhere, stay home.

Of course, that’s not always possible. So for those who do have to head out, allow plenty of time to get to the destination, whether it’s just around the corner, or four hours away. Plan the route, and check what conditions are expected along the way.

Then, drive for those conditions, understanding that the best tires in the world, or even a four-wheel-drive, won’t negate ice or defeat physics.

Despite recent mild winters, the weather outside can still be frightful.

But with a little care (and a lot of preparation), snow- and ice-covered roads can be safely navigated.

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