Opinion: The weather outside is delightful, but the roads are truly frightful

I knew it would get here eventually. We have officially run headlong into winter in South Delta.

Who doesn’t like the snow? The kids get all dressed up and head to Diefenbaker Park with a sled, trying not to end up in the pond. It’s time for a walk, the snow falling gently from the sky, all that you hear is quiet. So peaceful.

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Who doesn’t like the snow? Anyone who is in one of those cars, trying to get around, that’s who.

Let’s face it, then it comes to winter, we in Metro Vancouver don’t handle it well. No matter how much we try, no matter how early the snowfall warning comes, no matter how much the cities and services say they’re ready, we aren’t.

Delta does a pretty good job, although we usually don’t get hit as hard as other places. I was driving from downtown on Sunday night when the latest round started. It was a mess until I got to the Knight Street Bridge, when it started letting up a bit. Not a plow or speck of rock salt in sight.

A couple years ago, just before Christmas, the airport put out a tweet: “We are ready for the weather!” That was at 7 a.m. At 9 a.m., the airport was closed. I only remember because my family was on the plane. Five hours later, back to the gate, see you tomorrow. Don’t worry, we’ll be ready. (That time they were.)

But when it comes to the roads, we should get a sympathetic look from the rest of the country, instead of just a pathetic look. Generally speaking, we are in the worst place for road hazards with the snow.

I spent a few years working for a tire company, and introduced a line of winter tires to the market. I learned a lot about winter tires, ice and why all-season tires aren’t all-season. The problem is our winter temperatures when we get the white stuff are the most dangerous.

Between -6 and zero, a thin film of water -- seven times thinner than a human hair -- is all it takes to make an all-season tire skate like Sidney Crosby. The tire causes this thin film of water to form on the ice, as it can melt that tiny bit as it makes contact. Just enough to put you in the ditch, or worse.

And don’t think that all-wheel drive will help you, or the new all-season tires. Tread depth will help you get started, but won’t help you stop. There’s lots of trucks in the ditch that can attest to that one.

Winter tires have more biting edges and more tiny variations in the tread that allow it to go through that micro-layer of water and grip the ice.

But the cost! Winter tires are so expensive! Yes, there is a significant expense, but it’s offset by a few things. First, your regular all-seasons last longer because they are off the car for the winter. And it’s a lot easier and cheaper than dealing with an accident.

ICBC had over 4,000 claims from Vancouver after the first snow. No wonder our premiums are going up.

Drive safe. The snow will be gone soon, so we can get back to our regularly scheduled rain.

Brad Sherwin, MBA is a long-time resident of South Delta, and has over 30 years’ experience in marketing, public relations and business strategy. He teaches marketing at Douglas College, coaches hockey goalies and is past president of the board of directors at Deltassist.

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