Winter is on the way and local residents should get ready for the first snowfall of the season.
“This is Canada. Every year it gets cold and it snows, but every year people are surprised by it and end up in the ditch,” said Sgt. Kevin Podbisky.
Clearwater RCMP’s NCO-in-charge was speaking during a winter awareness meeting held at Argo Road Maintenance’s yard in Clearwater on Thursday, Oct. 4.
Drivers should make sure they have their snow tires on, have their car prepared for winter, and drive to road conditions, Podbisky said.
The sergeant’s caution about driving to road conditions was echoed by Tom Bone, Argo’s general manager.
“When the first snow comes, we throw everything we have out onto the roads. Some people simply don’t prepare,” he said.
Just because the road is clear at Vavenby is no reason to assume there won’t be four inches of snow on the highway a few kilometers north at Mad River.
“Slow down and give us time to do our jobs,” Bone said. “We try to do our work in the mornings but we can’t control when it snows. If you see us with our flashing lights on, they’re on for a reason.”
Bone said it is not Argo’s policy for their snowplows to pull over simply to let other motorists pass.
If they do pull over, it is an indication that the road ahead is in relatively good condition.
“If we’re only going 40 or 50 km/hr, it’s an indication that that is the safe speed,” Bone said.
Last winter a commercial truck tried to pass an Argo plow on the right. It struck the plow and went into the ditch. Even though he was obviously in the wrong, the truck’s driver complained that the snowplow had been interfering with his schedule.
Priorities for the snowplows are schoolbus routes and the highway, he said. Only after they are cleared will they move to secondary roads. Argo only plows driveways in an emergency.
New pieces of equipment for the Clearwater and Barriere Argo yards should help this winter.
The budget for new tires alone was $100,000, said Bone.
Other tips for the winter include not leaving vehicles parked on the road where they will interfere with snowplows.
One of the best ways to get winter driving information is at the Drive B.C. website (www.drivebc.ca or 1-800-550-4997 is updated every four hours. Accidents, major events, significant weather changes and traffic advisories are updated immediately.
Argo hosts a winter awareness meeting every fall, with representatives from all agencies and organizations involved, such as police, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and tow truck operators.