Shift into Winter

An initiative to keep you safe and moving during the winter season, and the work we do to make sure you are.

5 Easy Ways to be a Better Winter Driver

How to Drive Better in Winter

Police officers see it all in winter. Consider them experts in what to do (and not to do) to make the “shift into winter” and travel safely through the chilly season. Staff Sgt. Pat McTiernan is one such officer. He’s the Operations NCO for the North District Traffic Services (a division of the RCMP) out of Prince George. We recently talked to him to get some expert advice on how drivers can get ready for winter driving. It’s really not that difficult to prepare yourself and your vehicle for the snow, ice, freezing rain, fog (I could go on…) that pounds the province for months every year. We’ll let the Staff Sgt. take it from here… 1. Install Winter tires, winter tires, winter tires, winter tires (yes, all four of them!) Pat says: “The key is that people in the north are generally dealing with temperatures and conditions that...

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How to Choose from 4 Types of Tires for Winter Driving in BC


There’s been a lot of tire talk lately, which is great. Winter is coming, and you obviously want to be prepared. We want you to be prepared, too. So, we thought we’d go over the four types of tires you are permitted to use when driving high mountain passes and other signed BC highways requiring winter tires for passenger vehicles. 1. Studded Winter Tires How to identify? M+S or Mountain/snowflake on sidewall and metal studs on tread Perform best in? Wet, rough ice, and heavy snow; temperatures below 7C What else should you know? Studded tires with studs up to 3.5mm are allowed on BC highways from October 1 to April 30 (one month after winter tires requirements). Vehicles weighing less than 4,600 kg can have up to 130 studs per tire, and vehicles weighing more can have up to 175 studs per tire. It’s also important to note...

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Do Motorcycles Need Winter Tires in BC?


We’ve received many questions from motorcyclists wondering how winter tire regulations affect them. In a nutshell, here’s how motorcyclists should approach winter driving in BC. Motorcyclists are not required to use winter tires, as winter tires are not available for most motorcycles. Instead, motorcyclists should use common sense when deciding to drive on BC highways between October 1 and March 31. BUT: Cyclists should avoid driving in bad weather, and when Environment Canada or your weather app says bad weather is on the way. If the temperature gauge is near or below freezing, or road conditions include snow or ice, you should not be on the road. And remember, police may turn all vehicles around, including motorcycles, if they think conditions are unsafe. We know no one wants to be caught on two wheels in the middle of a snowstorm. Please use good judgement when heading out on those...

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7 Things You Need to Know BEFORE Driving the Coquihalla and High Mountain Passes

Coquihalla safety tips

Coquihalla, Rogers Pass, Bear Pass, Pine Pass…are you ready? If you live on the Coast, you may not travel BC’s mountains very often. We’ve noticed a number of those living in those areas aren’t always ready to go from wet Lower Mainland winter to snowy BC Interior/ Northern winter. Sure those mountains make the perfect backdrop to all those Hollywood North movies; and of course, they’re gorgeous looking when all covered in a fresh dusting of snow. Don’t be deceived by that beauty, though. When travelling, they can change pretty dramatically when you come face to face with them. If you are planning on leaving the Lower Mainland and travelling into the mountains this winter, you need to plan ahead. To make safety a priority, you must know as much as you can about High Mountain Passes (there are more than 50 in BC, by the way) and what...

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Shift into Winter: The Inside Scoop on Winter Tires and Chains

Winter Tires and Chains Sign

When are winter tires or chains right for you? Good question – glad you asked. With tire/chain requirements coming into effect today (October 1) on most B.C. highways, we want to clear up any confusion so you can get your mind back on the road this winter. To help you — and by “you,” we mean passenger vehicle drivers and commercial truck drivers — navigate your winter tread and chain needs, we recently went live with a brand new Winter Tires and Chains website, which guides you through depending on the vehicle you drive and where you drive it. So, what is a winter tire? Is it one with a mountain/snowflake symbol?  How about M+S (mud and snow) tires? We recently assessed the existing definition of “winter tires and chains” as part of the highway speed and safety review. There are six things you need to know now. What’s...

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Tell TranBC


What Do You Want to Know More About? Are you looking for something on TranBC but can’t find it? Or have a question about what the ministry does and why we do it? Share your question with us and we’ll try to get you an answer. Who knows – your question could be our next blog! Thank you – we couldn’t do this without YOU.

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A Look Behind the Scenes at Winter Maintenance in B.C.


When the snow starts falling, the plows hit the roads. Sounds like it could almost be a country song, but it’s also the theme of our latest video, which was shot on location in the east Kootenays this winter with the help of our local maintenance contractor, Mainroad East Kootenay Contracting. We touch on a lot of topics in this one, like which streets get plowing priority, how often contractors plow (spoiler: they’re plowing 24/7, if required) and the use of salt and winter abrasive. Check it out and let us know, does this video answer any of your winter maintenance questions? Did it raise any new ones? Are there other videos like this you’d like to see about other topics? Leave us a comment below or connect with us on Twitter of Facebook and tell us what you think.

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Winter Driving Through the Eyes of… a B.C. Firefighter

Winter Driving Through the Eyes of… a B.C. Firefighter

When winter hits, firefighters have to achieve a delicate balance between speed and safety. As emergency responders, their goal is to arrive on scene as fast as possible without putting themselves or other drivers at risk. This is Part 3 of a Shift Into Winter interview series exploring how various people, representing various professions, experience winter driving in B.C. So far, we’ve talked to paramedics and a road maintenance worker, and continue with Surrey firefighter and instructor, Reo Jerome. Here are a few excerpts from our conversation: TranBC: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Reo. Tell us about the multiple roles you play. Reo: I coordinate emergency vehicle operations programs for the Fire and Safety Division at the Justice Institute of British Columbia. As well, I’m a Captain and relief Battalion Chief with the City of Surrey Fire Department. TranBC: What are some of the safe...

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Winter Driving Through the Eyes of… Highway Maintenance

Perhaps no group monitors winter on B.C. highways more vigilantly than the ministry’s maintenance contractors. They are on call around the clock, ready to battle the ice, slush and snow that can threaten travellers’ safety at a moment’s notice. This is Part 2 of a Shift Into Winter interview series exploring how people, representing various professions, experience winter driving in B.C. We began by talking to paramedics, and continue here with Interior Roads Equipment Supervisor Rob Schwartz. Here are a few excerpts from our conversation: TranBC: Hi Ron. Tell us about yourself. What do you do to improve winter driving? Ron: I work for Interior Roads – our head office is based in Williams Lake. And I make sure that we’ve got all our equipment in tiptop shape. TranBC: What should drivers know about driving near winter maintenance vehicles? Ron: Well, what we’ve noticed here is to make sure...

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Winter Driving Through the Eyes of… Paramedics

Impact Viala

If a highway incident happens, the British Columbia Ambulance Service is one of the first responders on the scene. Paramedics such as Corey Viala and Annemarie Byers have seen a lot. And, sadly, a lot of what they’ve seen, including the injuries they’ve treated, was preventable. This is Part 1 of a Shift Into Winter interview series exploring how various people, representing various professions, experience winter driving in B.C. We begin by talking to Corey and Annemarie in hopes of sharing their firsthand experiences of the dangers winter can pose for those who are unprepared. Here are a few excerpts from our conversations: TranBC: Hi Corey. Tell us a bit about yourself. Corey: I’ve been a paramedic in the B.C. Ambulance Service for over 20 years. Living in a small community , I’ve witnessed many accidents that have involved people that I know… friends, co-workers, and family members. TranBC:...

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