3 Roadwise Tips for the New Fall Driving Season

For many, the launch of the new ICBC rating system wasn’t a big deal…life goes on.

And, with the coming fall season, so have our busy lives – the many school, work, family, and fitness routines that mark our everyday lives are back in full effect.

So now that you’re back in your car and on the road on a regular basis, let’s consider a few ways to keep the routine fresh, while also minimizing the risk of actually having to use your insurance.

First – start earlier. Try moving up your usual daily departure time by 10 minutes; this will give you permission to stress less about getting ‘there’, wherever that is, on time.

Also, by starting earlier, you won’t just be on time (or even a little early) – you may also be more relaxed when you get there.

A big cause of the ICBC changes, after all, was the huge increase in crashes over the last 10 years, and the related losses from spiralling medical, legal and replacement costs. We also know that many crashes are due to speeding, distracted driving, and other unnecessary motor vehicle infractions; operator stress undoubtedly plays a factor in some of the damage, injuries, and deaths recorded province-wide.

Combined with the increased activity on our roads, intersections and crosswalks, the value of those 10 minutes could be bigger than just the easing-up on life’s fast pace. Reduce the rushing around, and everyone’s transition back to fall could get safer, not just less stressful.

Next, while we’re chilling behind the wheel, so are the conditions on our roads. Thanksgiving is less than a month away, which brings together three elements of danger for many BC drivers: icy rain on the road, darkness, and over this holiday in particular, inebriants.

Let’s tackle that last point first. We can’t forget that operating a vehicle while under the influence is always prohibited, whether due to alcohol or cannabis (or even certain medications).

So enjoy the holidays weekend celebrations to come by always having a designated driver on-hand. You can also book a cab in advance or, by the end of 2019 in parts of BC, use a ride-hailing service.

But even the stone-cold soberest among us must remember that in the fall, weather and road conditions can change quickly; for all the many wonderful memories we create on holidays with family and friends, carelessness can take it all away. So before Thanksgiving hits this year, make sure to do the basics:

  • Know your route. Plan ahead to make your trip as saf​​e as possible. Check road and weather conditions at drivebc.ca or toll-free at 1-800-550-4997.
  • Prepare your vehicle. Make sure that your tires are inflated at the correct pressure and the tread isn’t badly worn. Check your engine oil, washer fluid, and the condition of your windshield wipers and spare tire.
  • Consider winter tires. From October 1 to March 31, drivers are required to use winter tires on some B.C. highways​.
  • Drive the speed limit. Especially on highways and rural roads. Allow at least twice the normal braking distance in wet or slippery conditions.

Lastly, Hallowe’en is right around the corner, so it’s time to dispel one very important myth about this family-friendly holiday.

It all starts with all the crazy updates and photos in our news feeds, and continues as we drive home we see the colourful, pre-dusk activity on our neighbourhood streets…that quickly melts into the darkness.

It’s both the most fun night of the year, and a major reminder of the dangers that lurk unless we slow down and look….but, thank goodness everyone has lights. Because that means they see the cars, right?

There’s the myth. Unfortunately, pedestrian and cyclist lights don’t help them see their route or hazards – streetlights do this. Instead, lights say “see me – I’m here”. They’re also meant for you, the driver.

That’s because in the dark, people on foot (or on a bicycle) can’t gauge vehicle speed or make eye contact with drivers, and thus the low visibility and distractions of Hallowe’en mean you can’t take it for granted that people will act predictably, whether by advancing or yielding when you expect them to.

So on Hallowe’en night, the best fun is you may have is to leave the car at home for the evening. Head out to enjoy the festivities (or cower in your dark home, in a blanket fort with Netflix and headphones).

But if you have to drive, yield to everything you see until you’re sure the coast is clear of ghouls and goblins.

It’s a new season, and a new era for driving in British Columbia. It doesn’t have to hold you back, as long as we’re all moving forward.

We’re All About You.®