Despite the majority of B.C. motorists admitting to being the worst winter drivers in the nation in a new BCAA survey conducted by Insights West, B.C., drivers are taking little action to prepare for bad weather.
Almost one in three (32%) B.C. motorists say there’s no need for them to prepare for winter driving because they consider themselves to be a good driver. One third (31%) say they won’t prepare until it actually snows, while one third (31%) don’t believe B.C. is in store for a bad winter.
“Call it overconfidence or denial but, based on our data and in my experience, too many British Columbians, especially in the Lower Mainland, don’t think about winter driving until it’s too late,” says Stu Miller, BCAA senior manager of automotive operations.
Miller, who has worked in the business for 20 years, says he sees it every season. “Winter weather can create unpredictable road conditions anywhere and at any time, which can turn out to be challenging for even the most experienced driver.”
The survey shows that drivers may be taking risks by not being honest with themselves about their driving skills or comfort level when it comes to winter driving. According to the study’s results, B.C. drivers are confident but at the same time nervous driving in bad conditions, exposing a contradiction in drivers’ self-assessments. Almost two thirds (64%) claim they are experienced but nervous winter drivers and almost half (45%) say they’re experienced drivers but bad at driving in winter conditions.
A concern for BCAA is that 47% reveal that they’re nervous about driving in snow but drive anyway—one third even admit to “freaking out a bit” when having to drive in snow. Over 60% will not stay off the roads in bad conditions.
For 71% of B.C. drivers, winter driving is not a concern because they believe it “doesn’t snow much where they live.” But for Miller, snow is only part of the challenge. “Sleet, icy roads, heavy rainfall, cold temperatures and more hours of darkness—this is a season of weather hazards at every turn and with half of drivers not even checking the weather before heading out, it’s concerning,” says Miller.
One piece of good news in Miller’s eyes is that 68% think all B.C. drivers should use winter tires, though only 29% are prepared with a winter roadside emergency kit, “so we have work to do,” says Miller.
With 64% spending up to 10 hours and 32% up to 30 hours a week behind the wheel, Miller wants drivers to be more aware of their driving skills and comfort levels when it comes to driving in any winter weather conditions. He also stresses that motorists should have other transportation options already planned in case they’re unable to drive safely in winter conditions.
According to BCAA, when harsh winter weather hits, the number of calls from across the province into the organization’s roadside assistance call centre can increase between 40 to 60% on certain days. In the Metro Vancouver area, roadside assistance call volumes during snowy or frigid weather can double.