Pay attention to driving conditions: ICBC

Media climbed into a new Ford Escape, gunned it down a straight away to a series of traffic cones, then had to make sharp, evasive turns

A difference of 10 kilometres an hour can make the difference between losing control and staying in control on a wet surface.

So you’ve got your nice, new SUV with electronic stability control and four-wheel drive and ABS and all that.

Ready for the snow and rain, right?

Yes and no, says ICBC and the Justice Institute of B.C.

While new vehicles, as of September, are all equipped with stability control computer-controlled systems that can control inputs on each wheel to minimize spin outs or skids, no technology can make up for stupid driving or recognize all road conditions.

“It’s not a magic solution,” says Justice Institute driving instructor Norm Prosch.

“It’s not magic and it’s not going to replace common sense and driving according to the conditions.

“If you’re going too fast, that’s where the rubber meets the road, right there.”

To make their point, ICBC and the Justice Institute set up a demonstration at the B.C. Driving Centre at Pitt Meadows Regional Airport on Tuesday.

Media climbed into a new Ford Escape, gunned it down a straight away to a series of traffic cones, then had to make sharp, evasive turns, according to last-minute signals.

Piles of boxes that went flying, as in the TV show Canada’s Worst Driver, if the vehicle couldn’t stay in the lane, added to some effects when media drivers screwed up.

To make their point, the track was flooded, to simulate driving in the rain.

Prosch said a difference of 10 kilometres an hour can make the difference between losing control and staying in control on a wet surface, if evasive moves are needed.

It could be possible to make a sudden lane change at 60 kilometres an hour, but lose control at 70 km/h, on a wet road.

And often, if drivers are able to avoid the object, such as a cyclist or pedestrian darting out, the difficult part is moving back into the lane safely.

“Posted speed limits are ideal for dry roads,” added Alex Lee, manager of road safety programs.

Driving is more than just the road, said Lee. “It’s the road and the darkness. Just change the frame of mind is the important thing.”

The Pacific Traffic Education Centre, part of the JI is locating to Pitt Meadows in November and just got a new track coat of asphalt laid down on its training track.

“Many drivers don’t realize that when they drive too fast for the road conditions, their risk of crashing increases significantly,” said Fiona Temple, ICBC’s road safety director. “The reality is that the posted speed limit is only for ideal or dry road conditions. You can help make our roads safer by slowing down – you’ll see more of the road and be better equipped to respond to the unexpected.”

Drive safe

• When driving on wet roads, increase your following distance to four seconds.

• Slow down. Remember, the faster you drive, the longer it takes to stop on wet roads.

• Make sure your windshield wipers are in good working order and you have sufficient windshield wiper fluid.

• Check that your tires are inflated at the correct pressure and appropriately rated for the weather conditions.

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