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Plan for a safe holiday road trip

By Blair Qualey
In addition to outfitting your vehicle with the right tires – preferably snow tires – it’s essential to slow down, accelerate and brake more slowly, and turn your lights on, day and night, notes Blair Qualey, President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC.

By Blair Qualey

As the holiday season takes centre stage, this is the time of year when many are planning to visit family and loved ones – so plan-ahead to ensure that road trip is as enjoyable and safe as possible.

Your first visit should be to to access the most current source of highway conditions, status of various routes, highway cameras and route incidents. The teams at the BC Ministry of Transportation do a superb job in providing these updates to keep motorists safe and I commend them.

The extreme weather that devastated our highway system a year ago serves as a stark reminder of the potential for unpredictable weather – and that means exercising caution and driving at a conservative speed based on weather and road conditions.

Winter tires are a key component of keeping yourself and others safe on icy and snowy roads. Their importance cannot be overstated, as they’re required on most routes in British Columbia between Oct. 1 and April 30. Snow tires with a snowflake symbol are the preferred choice over all terrain or all-season tires (M&S symbol), as the latter are more likely to slide on the road since they lose elasticity and grip at temperatures below 7°C, according to Transport Canada.

Being seen is also a key priority, especially during the dark, wintery days. While newer models have daytime running lights, those who may drive older vehicles should turn their lights on manually, to be easily seen.

Winter driving generally demands more concentration and care from drivers, so be sure to use slow maneuvers, refrain from braking quickly, and use a gentle foot on that accelerator pedal. Driving slowly is one of the smartest things you can do to reduce your risk of an incident, while also providing yourself more time to react in case something does occur.

Keeping an emergency roadside kit with flares, flashlight, and other tools – in addition to water and warm clothing – is always a good idea. There’s plenty that you can add to your emergency kit, from jumper cables, a folding shovel, tire puncture seal to a first aid kit and more – and don’t forget the snacks, protein bars or meal replacements, which will be extremely important in the event you’re ever stopped for a longer time.

READ MORE: No time like the present to equip your vehicle with an emergency kit

An important aspect of ensuring a trip is not only safe but enjoyable is building in additional time to account for holiday traffic, meals and pitstops for all your travelling companions, including your pet.

The holidays provide a reprieve from many day-to-day rigours – but it also comes with its own form of stresses. So, if these surface, consider for a moment the value of friends and family, particularly after having come through a pandemic during which many of us endured months of isolation.

As you prepare for your winter road trip, have a safe and enjoyable holiday season, surrounded by those important in your life. And by following a few simple steps, you can help keep everyone safe on the wintery roads this year.

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at

READ MORE: Plan ahead for a safe holiday season