VICTORIA, B.C. – The B.C. government is looking to make changes to its winter tire and commercial vehicle chain-up requirements in the wake of what has been – and continues to be – a brutal winter.
One of the proposed measures is to extend chain-up and winter tire regulations on select highways, mountain passes, and rural routes in high snowfall areas from Oct. 1 to April 30 replacing the current March 31 end date.
Other changes would include stricter commercial vehicle chain-up requirements, such as higher fines – the current fine is set at $121 – for drivers not carrying chains or not chaining up when required.
Dave Earle, president and CEO of the B.C. Trucking Association (BCTA), said the association supports practical and effective measures to improve conditions on public highways, something he believes the government achieves with its recommendations.
“Our members are among those most greatly impacted by the failure of some drivers to chain up when required and we welcome changes to improve compliance,” said Earle. “And while increasing penalty amounts may encourage some drivers to chain up, creating further prescriptive regulations is not the only option.”
Earle said the BCTA would like to see additional, larger, and properly maintained chain-up areas in the province, as well as efforts to increase education and enforcement to address the issue.
The government also suggests a pilot project that would restrict commercial vehicles from using the far left lane on key three-lane highway sections during winter in an effort to ensure routes remain open to snow plows, emergency, and passenger vehicles.
“We look forward to working with the government to review the results of the pilot program restricting commercial vehicle use in the far left lane on three lane portions of divided highways,” said Earle. “There will be situations where a blanket restriction is not practical, such as when both right hand lanes are blocked for an extended period due to natural hazards, but we fully anticipate such circumstances will be considered during the evaluation of the project.”
The province plans to invest $1.8 billion over the next three years for additional weather stations and overhead message signs, as well as enhance road-maintenance contractor monitoring and auditing using road weather stations, variable speed limit systems, and GPS tracking for snow plows. Additional support for the Winter Driving Safety Alliance to promote safe driving behavior and awareness for all drivers rounds out the list of proposed changes made by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“I have heard from people and communities throughout the province that we need to take action to improve safety on our highways,” said Claire Trevena, minister of B.C.’s Transportation and Infrastructure. “With that in mind, our government is moving quickly to implement changes that will ensure people are able to get where they need to go more safely through the winter months.”
In the coming months, the ministry will also begin engagement with the commercial trucking industry and stakeholders on the implementation of these new safety measures.
Regulatory changes are expected to be in place by next winter.