CHRISTMAS TIME is a time for celebration and family—and also for driving safely to ensure celebrating with family can continue.
But drivers seem to be drinking and driving in higher numbers than expected since November, which is a surprise to the highway patrol officer in charge, Sgt. Pam Scott.
Seven impaired drivers being stopped in one weekend was a high number, she said.
The highway patrol, or West Pacific Region Traffic Services, includes Terrace, Kitimat, Prince Rupert and out to Smithers.
All emergency services personnel, including paramedics, firefighters, Terrace RCMP officers and highway patrol officers, hosted a Candy Cane Christmas Checkpoint on Hwy 16 by Ferry Island Dec. 14 to remind drivers to drive safely during the holiday season.
Checkpoints were also held in Kitimat and Smithers.
Part of safety on the roads includes wearing seatbelts, which officers check for all the time.
The percentage of people who wear their seatbelts is 90 per cent or so; however, in crashes where alcohol is involved, most motorists don’t wear seatbelts, said Scott.
Right now, highway patrol officers are focussing on driving for the road conditions so it’s possible to stop if something happens and prevent an accident.
And that can include watching what kind of footwear the driver is wearing – one driver was wearing big clunky boots and had trouble hitting the brake when he needed to as the boots got in the way, said Scott.
To tell if you’re far enough behind a vehicle on the road, when the car in front of you passes an object on the side of the road, count to three and you should be able to do that before you reach the object.
However, that’s for dry road conditions.
Vehicles are being seen with winter tires, which used to all have the snowflake in a mountain design on them to indicate that they are proper winter tires, said Scott.
However, there are some brands that aren’t putting that symbol on anymore.
So as long as the tires have M+S on them, which stands for mud and snow, they’re okay to use, although they must have good tread on them.
Police will be out and about, especially on weekends, until after the new year to ensure drivers are travelling safely.