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Backroad Driving BC: Need to Know

Posted by on Monday, April 9th, 2018 in Towing

While most of us stick to the main roads and highways that take us to beautiful spots all over BC, there are many that look to the backroads when searching for the next adventure. With over 620 000 km of backroads to explore in BC alone, it is important to understand the risks and necessary tools you should have when you choose to drive down one of these backcountry roads.  

In British Columbia, Forest Service Roads (FSR) are administered by the BC government and are maintained primarily by the forest industry under road permits, along with the gas and oil or mining industries. Remember – always be prepared to move out of the way for larger trucks coming down these roads as the permit-holders always have right of way!

It is of extreme importance that when you choose to go down a backroad, you understand what you are getting into.  These roads can be unforgivingly rough, far away from cell service, and leave you alone in the wild if anything were to go wrong. We aren’t saying it isn’t worth the risk – but better safe and aware than sorry! Here are a few tips to get you started.

Understand the Conditions

Backroads can be rough. Weather may create adverse conditions that result in wash-outs, flooding, and leave potholes for years to come. There might be soft muddy sections that turn into hard gravel with extremely sharp rocks, and running into residual debris is a common event. Caution is always advised and it is best to be aware and up-to-date on any weather conditions that can impact your drive. Often, these roads will have little to no signage or barriers identifying hazards or dangers, and you will have limited visibility when turning corners and driving up gradients. We would advise cars without four-wheel drive do not attempt to drive on backroads, and checking road conditions will help you make that decision.

Know What You Can Access

First things first – these roads are licenses and operated for use by the forestry industry and are extremely active during the summer months. As mentioned, these roads have little to no signage or barriers for hazards, and leave little room to get out of the way should you encounter a large logging truck – which ALWAYS has the right of way. Be sure to look at the BC Government’s road closure and active logging information page for any closures beforehand, as well as the road safety information they have on their website. These roads are monitored by law enforcement and you will be subject to punishment if you break the law.

Map It Out

We know we don’t have to say this, but having a well-informed map to plan out your route and have on you during the trip can reduce your stress and ensure your trip will be worthwhile. Backroad map books are available at most visitor centers across BC, and provide great insight to these roads and places they lead you to. By utilizing these map books as well as the internet to view road closures and safety information, you will be better prepared to handle these roads and be prepared for the conditions!

Below is a list of resources to help you plan out your backroad trips and ensure you are well-prepared when it comes to the drive. Remember that if you need a hand our drivers at Westshore Towing can help you out on these roads as well -, don’t hesitate to call when you need us!

 

Resource Radio Road Communications: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/natural-resource-use/resource-roads/radio-communications

Resource Road Information: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/natural-resource-use/resource-roads

Road Closure Information:  https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/natural-resource-use/resource-roads/local-road-safety-information

BC Transit  Driving Resources: https://www.tranbc.ca/2013/08/30/warning-read-before-driving-resource-roads/

 

Cruise Control: What you should know

Posted by on Wednesday, March 7th, 2018 in Towing

Cruise control (sometimes known as speed or auto cruise) is a feature that comes standard on most vehicles. Many drivers choose to use cruise control because it is convenient, but there are a few important things you must know in order to safely and appropriately use this feature. Cruise control is useful for long drives and in order to avoid going over the posted speeding limits on sparsely populated roads.  The following contains useful information to keep in mind when you’re thinking about using cruise control. Always check your owner’s manual for detailed information on how to use your vehicle’s cruise control.

 

How it Works
Cruise control works by a driver bringing their vehicle up to speed and using a button or lever to control such speed. The controller will not allow use below a certain speed – usually about 40km/hr. The vehicle maintains control of this speed, and the driver can press the brakes or push the cruise control button once more in order to cancel the cruise control.

 

Weather
Cruise control is a feature to be used in good driving conditions only. Do not use cruise control if you are in any kind of hazardous driving conditions, such as rain, fog, sleet, snow, or high winds. Make sure you keep your eyes on the road, watch for any oncoming obstacles, and maintain the use of cruise control in good judgment. The last thing you want when using cruise control is to stop maintaining control of your vehicle. Make sure you keep your hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and foot near the brakes.

 

Location
Cruise control is designed to be used on highways or long roads with infrequent stops, curves, or other driving maneuvers. If you are out of the city, on a long straight road, you are in a good area to use your cruise control. Highways are the most common place cruise control is used, but we warn you not to use this feature throughout high traffic hours or at night with little visibility.

 

Driver’s Conditions
As a precaution, we warn all driver’s to never operate a vehicle when you are fatigued, let alone using the cruise control feature. We have seen so many preventable accidents and injury over the years due to driver’s that should have never driven with fatigue. Using cruise control when you are tired can lead to being even less focused on the road and your vehicle, thus causing more preventable accidents.

Get Your Call Ready For Fall Driving

Posted by on Saturday, February 3rd, 2018 in Towing
tire repair + towing companies

I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news here, but I am sad to inform everyone that summer is quickly coming to an end. That’s right, as the days grow shorter and kids prepare to go back to school, fall is just around the corner. The change of season is the perfect time to put on your favourite sweater, drink a pumpkin spice latte, and show your car a little love with some maintenance.

Following these tips can help assure safe travels for you and everyone else on the road.

Check your brakes and tires

Whether you like it or not, living on the Island = rain. Rain causes the roads to get slick due to oil from a hot summer; this means the need to be able to stop on the drop of a dime is essential for avoiding accidents. When wear bars start to show, it’s time to give your tires a change. Checking the tire pressure is also a good idea since tire pressure drops when temperatures become cooler.

Check your lights

Having functional lights is crucial. For this reason, it is a good idea to give your car a walk around to triple check that all your lights are operational. Headlights, taillights, parking lights, brake lights, and emergency flashers all need to be in working order. If they’re not, it’s time to get them replaced.

Replace wiper blades

While you may have forgotten about Vancouver Island’s rainy days, I assure you they are coming. If your wiper blades are cracked or worn they won’t be able to do their job and you won’t be able to see (yikes). Checking the blade’s rubber and operating them to see that they clear the glass is a good idea.

Get your battery checked

Your battery needs to be in tip-top shape if you want to be able to start your car on cooler mornings. Having it inspected by a certified technician who can replace if it need be is a smart idea before hitting the roads this fall.

Pop open the hood

Be sure to take a look under your hood for any signs of wear and tear. Things such as leaks, cracks, loose clamps, or fraying on the underside of drive belts need to be noted and replaced. The sound that your engine is making is also a good indication. Sputtering or other engine problems mean it’s time to take it to a trained mechanic for a thorough inspection.

Assure that your heater/defroster are in proper working condition

Operating a vehicle with a malfunctioning heater isn’t safe (or warm). Fogged-up windows = potential accidents. Also, check the front and rear window defrosters to ensure proper working condition.

Check oil/air filters

Check the oil in your car to ensure it isn’t dirty. If it is, or you are at your recommended oil change time, make sure to take it in. Checking the air filter is also a must to make sure that it is clean enough to allow for proper operation.

Check all fluid levels

Note the car’s level of washer fluid, transmission, brake, and power steering fluids and your cooling system. It is recommended that you check your coolant level in the overflow tank when the engine is cold. If the level turns out to be too low, adding a 50/50 solution of water and coolant will allow proper antifreeze function. It may also be necessary to refill the cooling system.

How To Safely Share The Road With Cyclists

Posted by on Saturday, January 20th, 2018 in Towing

Recently, a video of a bike being side swiped by a vehicle turning right at an intersection in Saanich was shared online. While the cyclist walked away with only minor injuries, it could have been a lot worse. The driver, who drove off seemingly oblivious to what had just occurred was NOT practising correct motorist/cyclist road safety. This got us thinking, maybe it’s time to refresh peoples memories of how to correctly share the road with cyclists. Watch the video below and decide from our tips what the motorist did wrong and what they should have done instead.

According to ICBC, nearly four out of every five cyclists are injured at intersections in B.C. Drivers can help reduce the chances of a crash by safely sharing the road and always keeping the following tips in mind:

Keep a safe distance

It is recommended that drivers remain at least three seconds behind cyclists on the road. Because cyclists don’t have brake lights to warn you when they are slowing down or stopping so it is best to keep as much separation as possible, especially as the roads become more click. When making a pass, leaving one metre between you and the bike to reduce the risk of side-swiping or running a cyclist off the road.

Your door is dangerous

“Dooring” is very common and the consequences can be large. Including the chances of seriously injuring a cyclist, you can also receive a dooring violation and fine. It is both the driver and the passenger’s responsibility to shoulder check for bikers before opening doors.

Distraction is your worst enemy

Always be aware of cyclists on the road and make eye contact whenever possible. This will help you both be able to anticipate each other’s next move while remaining safe. Knowing cyclists hand sings helps to anticipate their next move and also when it is safe to pass.

hands gestures + share the road

Shoulder Check, shoulder check, shoulder check.

Shoulder checking when turning right and watching for oncoming cyclists when turning left is crucial. Always be cautious when entering a roadway or getting in and out of a parking spot.

Respect bike lanes.

Bike lanes are reserved for cyclists. Do not drive in bike lanes and always yield to cyclists when crossing bike lanes to access driveways or parking spots.

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