EDITORIAL: Winter on the west coast is must-see TV

Rest of Canada can have a laugh at Lower Mainland’s expense for a couple of days

Much to the amusement (and disdain) of the rest of Canada, it doesn’t take more than a few centimetres of snow to send Metro Vancouver drivers into a tailspin – as we’ve witnessed once again this week.

Like clockwork Monday morning, school districts across the region announced closures and grownups took the day off rather than brave Sunday night’s snowfall from behind the wheel.

Before long, the inevitable photos started coming in to the newsroom of vehicles in ditches or on their roofs (or both).

The rest of Canada has it worse, no question, but winter driving in the Lower Mainland does come with its own unique set of challenges.

First, heavy snowfalls happen so rarely here, that drivers can be forgiven for being a little out of practice when the odd snow day (or two) eventually hits.

Add to that temperatures that often hover right around the freezing mark, making it difficult to know when roads are icy, or just wet – though ice should always be considered a possibility.

Our high traffic volumes increase the likelihood that a bit of a slip-and-slide situation will turn into a collision.

And it’s fair to assume that Metro Vancouver cities aren’t as well equipped with sanders and plows as equivalent-size communities in other parts of the country. So it can take a little longer for crews to get some of the less traveled roads in these parts.

But enough with the excuses.

It might be tough to convince people to buy winter (or all-weather snow and mud) tires for their vehicles when there’s a fairly good chance they won’t need them, but these drivers need to be reminded they aren’t gambling with only their own safety. Everyone else on the road, regardless of how well-equipped for winter driving, is at their mercy.

And that’s not OK.

But the most basic safety precaution that a few drivers here – and thankfully, they’re the minority – still don’t seem to understand is simply to slow down.

Brake gently and over a more prolonged period when coming to a stop, and accelerate the same way to avoid skidding or spinning out.

Like most years, winter probably won’t stick around here for long.

But while it does, it will continue to make great TV for the rest of Canada.

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