Thursday, January 17, 2008

Winter driving a hot topic on northwest roads

With the cold and icy months of winter still ahead, there are renewed concerns about the state of vehicles on the provinces highways, especially in those areas that receive a fair amount of snow and black ice in the winter months.

Both the Terrace Standard and the Kitimat Sentinel have featured stories in the last week about the need for proper tires for travel on the highways of Northwestern BC.

The concern has centered on the increase in road deaths in northern BC, with many pointing to improper tires as one of the key ingredients to some of the carnage on the roads. For the first time in five years, the rate of casualties rose slightly in the North from 2006 to 2007.

While Terrace was talking about the quality of your tires, Kitimat was looking at the letter of the law.

Officials there were reminding the driving public that travel into the aluminum city is technically illegal without proper snow tires. A Kitimat traffic bylaw also calls for the mandatory use of winter tires between November 1 and March 31. The bylaw specifies chains, winter tires or studded tires as required in town.

And while tires are of course important, road conditions also raise the ire of drivers on a regular basis in the winter time. When wind whipped roadways can suddenly become sheets of white, and accumulations can quickly mount causing no shortage of troubles for those on the road.

In addition to the sudden bursts of snow and ice, the regular maintenance of northern highways has become a major issue of late as well. Local contractors across the north regularly feel the wrath of the public when things fall behind in both snow clearance and road maintenance.

Aware of that increased attention of late, the BCGEU has produced a handy little list for the traveling public, to keep score if you will on the conditions of their roads. It would seem to be a very smart publicity campaign that is asking you to be the judge if you’re getting full value for your tax dollars when it comes to the roads.

So make sure your car is properly equipped with the right tires and keep your pencils at the ready. But remember to pull over to the side of the road when you make your observations, you want to be part of the solutions not part of the problems

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