Winter tires necessary equipment

Scores of accidents littered the city Monday with the first heavy snowfall in the valley bottom this season.

Police attributed many of the crashes to people driving too fast for conditions, or as RCMP Staff Sgt. Grant Learned put it, "overextending their belief" in their driving abilities.

And precipitation is expected to continue in the form of rain or snow in the days ahead, which shouldn't surprise anyone for this time of year.

What is a mystery is why so many seem to lose their common sense when it snows, continuing to drive as though the ground was dry instead of slowing down and taking more caution.

There are also certain risk-takers who figure all-season tires will be good enough get around on mountainous roads outside of town like the Coquihalla Highway and the Sun Peaks and Paul Lake roads, despite posted signs noting winter tires are required from Oct. 1 to April 30.

Highway patrols have been holding roadside checks in those areas for weeks now, reminding people they need to have proper tires. If not, police have the option of turning such drivers back and/or issuing a $121 ticket with a penalty of two demerit points.

Winter tires, the ones with the snowflake on the side, make a difference. According to Transport Canada, all-seasons begin to lose their elasticity at temperatures below 7 C.

While it's not true a driver without winter tires will have his insurance voided if he's in a crash in an area requiring them, the driver may be considered at fault.

Driving experts suggest good strategies for winter conditions include driving slower, braking sooner and before getting into a turn, and remembering to steer into the skid if you lose control (if the car starts drifting left while trying to turn right, turn the wheel left).

And alert any visitors who might be coming from out of province or the Lower Mainland of the requirement for winter tires or chains in the Interior.

We can all take responsibility for making our roadways safer.

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