Bad highway—or bad drivers? How to stay safe on our province’s highways

A tow truck driver on the Sea to Sky Highway says drivers have a role to play in making it safer, from going slower and obeying road rules to making sure their vehicles have proper tires.

Rafael Hambalek has been one of the first on scene at accidents on B.C.’s highways for 30 years. He often finds himself cleaning up messes caused by the inexperienced and unprepared.  “It’s the drivers that have to realize, ‘Hey, you’re not on a race course here,’” he said. “This is snow, this is slippery. This is dangerous conditions. So drive accordingly.”

One of his biggest pet peeves is drivers ill-equipped for inclement weather on the Sea to Sky with faulty tires.  “People say, well, they’re all season tires. But they have no tread on them! They’re bald as a baby’s butt,” he said

Full winter tires are not legally mandated on some B.C. highways, including the Sea to Sky. Basic mud and snow tires meet the minimum requirement, but experts say they aren’t nearly as effective.  “A tire with the three peak snow mountain winter rating does a lot more to give you traction—because it does a lot more in snow and ice,” said Bryan Delwo with Kal Tire in Squamish.

Experts say another issue is rental cars—picked up by tourists in Metro Vancouver—often only come equipped with basic, all season tires.  “Anybody coming from the city or the island, a lot of people here think we don’t get enough winter here to need winter tires,” he said.  “The catch-22 is that when you’re in the minus one, minus two conditions those are actually the most difficult conditions for traction.”

Hambalek, says it only takes seconds for any driver to the cause of a devastating crash.”It’s driver responsibility to make sure you have a safe vehicle,” he said. “It all boils down to the driver of the vehicle.”

Full article and media clips