LETTER: Playing Russian Roulette on Highway 1

Editor,

In B.C., from Oct. 1 to March 31, to drive in our mountain passes, we are required to have “snow tires” on our vehicles. If you are a commercial truck, the requirement is “snow tires OR chains on board”. “Chains on board “ means just that. It doesn’t mean you even have to know how to put them on.

What this means is that all those big trucks you see on the highway do not have to have snow tires on. Having chains “on board” satisfies the requirement. Many truckers do have the right tires, but many and most, especially from other provinces, do not.

Additionally, if you are a visitor to B.C. and are landing at Calgary Airport say, you cannot rent a vehicle with snow tires. They don’t exist. As a visitor, you might assume the vehicle you are renting to get you to the mountains is safe to do so. It is not. At Kelowna Airport, if you specifically requested snow tires in advance, and only if they’re in supply, you might get snow tires, for an additional charge of $20 a day, every day.

So now imagine a carload of visitors from Texas say, excited about their ski vacation here in Revelstoke. They are driving from Calgary, it’s at night, and it’s snowing hard. They’ve already white knuckled through Spiral Tunnels, Kicking Horse Pass, Heather Hill, and now it’s Roger’s Pass. They’re driving down a hill, and a semi is coming the other way. Now there is a second semi, and he’s going to pass the first semi. No one is sure where the centre line is, no one can see, and no one has snow tires. It’s miraculous they all pass each other without incident. But the scenario plays itself again around the next corner, the next hill. And again and again.

And we know accidents are occurring, ugly nasty, head-on collisions. Unsuspecting innocent people are dying. Getting onto the Trans-Canada Highway is really like playing Russian Roulette on Route #1.

We require all vehicles passing through our mountain passes to be properly equipped. The RCMP and CVSE requires funding to make sure all vehicles comply. We require heavy penalties for those willing to endanger the innocent lives trying to get from point A to B. Our governments need to get on this now. Waiting for a twinned highway won’t do.

– Brian Tobin

Revelstoke, B.C.

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