Labour Day long weekend is one of the most dangerous on B.C. roads

Highways are expected to be busy this long weekend.

SOUTHERN INTERIOR - For many, the Labour Day long weekend is the last chance for a summer getaway before schedules get busier and school begins. Over the Labour Day long weekend, on average, four people are killed and 560 injured in 1,900 crashes on B.C. roads every year – making it one of the most dangerous long weekends of the year.

That’s why the B.C. government, police and ICBC are urging drivers heading out on a road trip to plan their route ahead of time and drive with caution.

“With more traffic expected over the long weekend, make sure to give yourself plenty of time,” said Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Check road and weather conditions at drivebc.ca external link before you set off to help make sure you and your family get to your destination safely.”

“We all need to make smart driving decisions this long weekend to keep B.C. roads safe so follow the posted speed limit and maintain a safe travelling distance,” said Chief Constable Jamie Graham, Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee. “You may think that by speeding, you’re cutting down on your travel time but what you’re really doing is decreasing your reaction time and putting everyone on the road at risk. Police will be out across the province looking for unsafe drivers.”

"We want you to have a fun and safe road trip this long weekend,” said John Dickinson, ICBC’s director of road safety. “Plan ahead to avoid distractions behind the wheel. If you’re using GPS, program it before you head out and if you must use your cellphone, ask your passengers to make or receive calls for you so that you can keep your full attention on the road.”

Here are ICBC’s tips for a safe summer road trip:

- Pre-trip check: Check your engine oil, coolant levels and lights, and inspect your vehicle tires, including the spare, to make sure they’re in good condition and properly inflated. Make sure any camping or outdoor equipment is securely tied down to your vehicle before you take off.

- RVs in your way: You’ll likely spot many recreational vehicles on the highways this weekend. If you’re driving in mountainous areas, you may find that many RV’s are driving below the speed limit because they may be underpowered and overloaded. Be patient with these drivers as they are likely going uphill as fast as they can. If you’re driving your RV this weekend, be courteous and pull over to let others by if you’re holding up traffic. This is much safer than a driver making an unsafe pass out of frustration.

- Stay alert: The warm weather we’re experiencing combined with long drives can be a dangerous combination. Get plenty of rest, stay hydrated and take rest breaks every 1.5 to two hours to avoid driver fatigue. Fatigue slows your reaction time, decreases awareness and impairs judgment. Even a slight decrease in reaction time can greatly increase your risk of crashing especially when travelling at highway speeds.

- Eliminate distractions: Plan ahead to avoid being distracted while driving – turn off your cellphone before you head out or put it in the trunk so you won’t be tempted to answer if it rings. Help keep your family and friends safe by not texting, calling or answering if you know someone is behind the wheel.

- Keep your distance: Always maintain a safe travelling distance between vehicles. Allow at least two seconds of following distance in good weather and road conditions, and at least three seconds on high-speed roads or if you’re behind a motorcycle since it has a much shorter stopping distance.

Keep in mind that on Tuesday after the long weekend, kids go back to school so drivers need to pay extra attention around crosswalks and school and playground zones. Police will be closely monitoring speeds in school zones, ensuring that drivers stick to the 30 km/h limit. You should also allow extra time for increased traffic as people return to work or school from summer holidays.

Over the Labour Day long weekend, on average, 80 people are injured in 290 crashes in the Southern Interior every year.

Editor's Note in response to allegations from Vernon RCMP Supt. Jim McNamara
Editor’s note: • Watch shifts at the Vernon detachment have fallen to as low as three roadable officers. • The department suffers from chronic understaffing. • Sources, who we trust and who have knowledge of the s

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