(PQB News file photo)

(PQB News file photo)

Rainy conditions increase collision risk for PQB drivers

Shift into Winter campaign advises motorists to slow down

Forecasted heavy rain in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area raises the risk of collision for drivers, regardless of how much experience they have.

“Rain can challenge even the best drivers,” said Trace Acres, spokesperson for the annual Shift into Winter campaign, in a news release. “Reduced visibility, slippery roads, spray and flooding can put people at risk.”

Cooler temperatures and fewer daylight hours add to the challenges.

Shift into Winter advises motorists to slow down, use winter tires with good tread, make sure wiper blades are in good condition and ensure vehicle lights are on. Driving too fast for the conditions causes most crashes in B.C. at this time of year, according to the release.

Even small amounts of water on the road can cause hydroplaning, which affects the vehicle’s steering and braking. Tires lose their grip on the road and instead travel on a thin film of water. Hydroplaning can happen at speeds as low as 60 kilometres per hour, according to the release.

The safest option is to stay home if the trip is not essential.

Drivers can check current road and weather conditions on DriveBC.ca before heading out. If they see a problem, they can choose a different route or make the trip when conditions improve.

READ MORE: Islandlink announces new Nanaimo-Tofino bus service this winter

“Speed limits are set for ideal conditions, not for wet or icy roads,” said Acres. “So doing the maximum allowed speed in rainy weather puts you in danger.”

Shift into Winter recommends drivers use four matching winter tires. They provide better grip on slippery roads and when temperatures fall below 7 C. Winter tires or chains are required on most highways in the region.

It’s also important to maintain a safe following distance. Vehicles can move unpredictably on wet roads and will take longer to stop. Leave at least four seconds between you and the vehicle in front.

Shift into Winter recommends switching to winter windshield wiper blades, especially if existing blades are old and brittle, or leave streaks or gaps.

Staying well back from large trucks and buses is another easy safety step to take. The spray from their large tires can reduce visibility.

Drivers also need to change the way they brake when roads are slippery, according to Acres.

“If you have the space and time, slow down by taking your foot off the accelerator rather than automatically applying your brakes,” Acres said.

To help reduce the risk of hydroplaning, don’t use cruise control on very wet roads. If a tire loses traction, cruise control could cause the vehicle to accelerate, according to the release.

“If the vehicle starts to hydroplane, stay calm and keep your foot off the brake,” the release stated. “Steer in the direction you want to go until you regain traction. Sudden or sharp turns could cause your vehicle to skid more.”

The 14th annual Shift into Winter campaign is supported by the Winter Driving Safety Alliance and managed by Road Safety at Work. It aims to reduce the number of winter-related crashes, injuries, and deaths on B.C. roads.

— NEWS Staff, submitted

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