Are you ready for winter driving?

Are you ready for winter driving?

Opinion: Winter check list

Don't be fooled by our recent string of mild winters.

Chilliwack drivers have had it pretty good over the past few winters. What snow has fallen has melted quickly, giving way to our more typical rain.

But our luck won’t last forever. And a look at the long range forecast suggests we may be heading into a more snowy stretch next week.

So it’s a good time to take a moment and make sure our vehicles are ready for the conditions.

Motorists heading into the mountains are already aware of the requirement that their vehicles have the proper tires. They’ll carry either the “M+S” symbol for mud and snow, or the mountain-snowflake for more icy and snowy winter conditions.

Failure to have the right winter-rated tire means the possibility of a fine, increased risk, and a more complicated insurance claim should you be in an accident.

Closer to home, the M+S tire is adequate for Chilliwack streets. But the ministry of transport reminds motorists to ensure all four tires match, and that they are properly inflated.

Tires are only part of your check list. Critical, too, is preparation. Make sure your wiper blades are working properly and your wiper fluid is topped up. An emergency kit that includes a blanket, flashlight and first aid supplies is never a bad idea. And keep your fuel tank full and your cell phone charged.

One of the best ways to avoid winter driving is to stay off the road. If the conditions are bad and you don’t have to be anywhere, stay home.

Of course, that’s not always possible. So if you do have to head out, give yourself plenty of time. Use that time to plan your route, check the conditions and properly clear all the snow off your vehicle.

Drive for the conditions, understanding that the best tires in the world, or even a four-wheel-drive, won’t negate ice or defeat physics. Drive slowly, keep your distance – and never use cruise control.

Despite our recent mild winters, the weather outside can still be frightful. But with a little care (and a lot of preparation) we can let it snow with confidence.