Vancouver considers crackdown on drivers without winter tires
Published Wednesday, February 8, 2017 6:25PM PST
An unusually snowy season has prompted City of Vancouver officials to look at ways of cracking down on unprepared drivers who are often the cause of major slowdowns in the city.
Many of the collisions that occur during snow storms are due to drivers who don't have winter tires, the city says, and just one or two vehicles getting stuck can cause backups felt by hundreds of commuters.
On Monday, for example, two vehicles got stuck on a slope on Grandview Highway, blocking two of the three lanes of traffic. The city's "hand crews" – staff members who lay down salt and clear sidewalks, corners and bus stops by hand – are being called in to help stuck vehicles, delaying their regular duties while tending to drivers who were unprepared for the weather.
Incidents involving vehicles without winter tires are the biggest causes of traffic jams and delays in snow plows and other city vehicles reaching their destinations, the city's chief engineer Jerry Dobrovolny said.
It's such a problem that the city will be reviewing the rules and finding out what its options are in terms of legal action.
Dobrovolny was asked for more details, including whether the review meant city staff would be talking to the Vancouver Police Department about giving drivers tickets or pulling them off the road if they don't have winter tires.
"That's the issue," he said.
"Right now the rules don't allow for all of that in the city, so that's something we need to review going forward."
There's a provincial law, the Motor Vehicle Act, under which drivers without the proper tires can face a $109 fine. But the rule doesn't apply to municipal streets, only provincially-maintained highways.
"It's very, very frustrating for people that have properly prepared, that have proper tires, are having no problem getting around the city because they're prepared, and are suffering major waits because of others that haven't," Dubrovolny said.
The goal of the review will be to look at what options Vancouver has as a municipality.
In the meantime, he advised anyone planning to drive during a snowstorm without winter tires to plan their travels wisely.
"It takes between one and three hours after the snow stops to melt the snow and bring us back to a clear asphalt surface," he said. His advice is to use winter tires, but if not, it's better to wait until the storm passes.
He said the city's fleet of plows and other vehicles, as well as hand crews, will be out through the evening, and that everyone is working "very committed to keeping the city going" and working hard.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's St. John Alexander