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Winter driving campaign calls for Prince George employers to reduce driving risk for workers

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of workplace traumatic deaths in B.C.
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(via Shutterstock)

The Shift into Winter driving campaign is reminding the public that winter driving increases the risk of being in a work-related motor vehicle crash.

As icy road conditions have already begun in Prince George, this is an important reminder given that work related motor vehicle crashes cause about one-third of all traumatic workplace deaths in B.C.

“Work-related driving in winter is dangerous in the Prince George area, regardless of how much or how little employees drive,” Louise Yako, spokesperson for the 13th annual campaign, which is a joint provincial initiative supported by organizations committed to improving the safety of drivers in winter conditions.

The risk of being in a workplace motor vehicle crash increases by 27 per cent during November through January in B.C.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of workplace traumatic deaths in the province.

“Crashes are preventable,” Yako said. “Employers need to prepare now for winter and plan ahead by reviewing, updating, and implementing their safe winter driving policies and practices to keep workers safe on the road.”

In the Fraser-Fort George region, rain, fog, snow, and ice can make winter driving dangerous. “Even the most experienced work drivers are challenged by cold temperatures, slippery roads, and reduced visibility,” she added.

“Conditions can change quickly and push driving skills to the limit.”

The campaign notes that employers and supervisors have a legal responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their employees when they are driving for work regardless of whether staff drive a company-owned or personal vehicle.

“Preventing work-related vehicle crashes is smart business,” said Yako.

“It directly benefits the employer, especially as businesses recover from the pandemic.” Improved winter driving safety practices can help reduce insurance and repair costs, and attract and retain employees by showing that their well-being is valued. “The best reason is to prevent the immeasurable personal and societal costs of crashes,” she adds.

High risk occupations for winter driving include transport trucking, delivery and courier services, bus drivers and other transit operations and community health support services.

The Winter Driving Safety Alliance, who is managed by the Road Safety at Work, suggests a few tips for Prince George employers and superivsers to help keep drivers safe on the job:

  • Ensure drivers are aware of the risks they may be exposed to while driving, are trained, and have the equipment and supervision to keep themselves safe.
  • Ask yourself: Does the employee have to drive? Could the business be conducted online or in a different way?
  • Make sure drivers know when and how to safely and properly install chains or other approved traction devices.   
  • Equip vehicles with a winter driving emergency kit

Employers can visit Shift Into Winter online for free information and tools for employers and supervisors including the regulations they need to follow.

Winter tires or chains are also required on all vehicles on designated highways in B.C. from Oct. 1 to March 31.

Winter tires -- 3-peaked mountain and snowflake, or mud and snow -- need to have at least 3.5 mm of tread depth. For select highways, including mountain passes and rural routes in high snowfall areas, the date is extended until April 30 to account for early-spring snowfall. These highways are marked with regulatory signs.

“Even the most experienced drivers are at risk when weather conditions change. On average, more than 20 workers are killed and another 1,500 are injured each year due to work-related motor vehicle incidents—with the majority occurring in winter,” said Al Johnson, head of prevention services with WorkSafeBC.  

“We want to remind employers and supervisors of their responsibility for the safety of all workers who drive as part of their jobs—whether they are in a company vehicle or their own.”