The beginning of this month was not a good one for many road users in the province with the weather related closure of 3 major east – west highway routes. Road maintenance contractors generally maintain our roads in good condition for safe driving, but when weather overwhelms their resources it should not be a surprise when road closures are the result. If you choose to travel during major weather events your mantra should be Know Before You Go or perhaps even simply Don’t Go.
One news report that I saw found a television reporter interviewing eastbound motorists who were stuck in a closure waiting for the Coquihalla Highway to reopen. The reporter asked one person if they had sufficient notice of the situation. There was a short pause and then a shake of the head. No, “they” could have done a better job was the response. Another related that they were keeping hunger at bay by eating chips and cookies.
This significant weather event should not have been a surprise to anyone. It was not the first storm in recent days and was warned about by every weather report I saw in the days prior to it. DriveBC had a travel warning posted on their web site. Social media was full of stories.
I wonder what the overhead variable message sign had to say for points east of Hope, but I’m guessing that it was not encouraging everyone with a report of good winter driving conditions.
Having chosen to continue the voyage after some consideration, the first responsibility for your health and safety falls to you. Proper winter clothing, food, water, sleeping bags or blankets, flashlights, candles and matches are a few personal supplies to have along. True winter tires, a shovel, tow rope, triangles, flares and some spares would be good choices to add to your vehicle.
Stopping in Hope to top up the fuel tank would have been a good choice to make too, especially if you don’t follow the precautionary habit of operating on the top half of the tank.
Regardless of your state of preparation, continued assessment of conditions is mandatory. If you anticipate problems then that is the time to either turn around and head for home or at least find the nearest motel to wait for improvement. Being warm and dry with a full stomach beats sitting on the highway idling your fuel away wondering what will happen.
In a major weather event like this one, “they” are overwhelmed trying to do their jobs to keep you moving or get you moving again. “They” don’t have the time or the resources to hold your hand and make sure that you are all right. If you need it, rescue could be a long time coming. First and foremost, it’s all up to you.