A car navigates around a truck that stalled while driving up a hill. (Black Press Media file photo)

Rickter Scale: Driving in the snow lane

The Rickter Scale is a regular column

Rick Stiebel/Columnist

The old anti-establishment hippie in me frequently resists any move by governments that restricts freedom of choice.

There’s one rumour being floated by B.C.’s Attorney General that deserves traction though, is the push for mandating proper tires, especially in the wake of the monsoon-like snowstorm that recently ravaged the region.

That’s something I can get behind, like the push many of us had to proffer recently to that vehicle spraying clouds of slush while its summer tires whined hopelessly in an east-west direction on a street where the rest of us were heading north or south.

Unlike the roads in the Capital Region following any dump of more than a couple of inches, it’s clear that Mr. Eby is not demanding that you race out to buy suitable tires. What Dave’s driving at is that if you venture onto the roads when they’re covered in snow, you must have the correct kind of shoes on your ride to ensure you don’t strangle the efforts of those of us with sensible footwear on their vehicles.

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Driving when there’s snow and or ice is challenging enough, even for those who grew up in climates where it’s not unusual to wake up with eight inches of partly cloudy covering your car and driveway. That’s why, whether you live in Montreal or Winnipeg, or Sidney or Sooke, the first thing you hear on the radio during a storm is our police forces pleading with folks to stay at home unless there are no other options. And that should include just driving a few blocks to get your Starbucks fix. If your caffeine addiction is so strong that you can’t get through a day without one, you should be able to handle grabbing your beverage on foot. Freedom of choice should not be extended to people whose idiotic behaviour negatively impacts the masses.

As I plod through this plea for common sense, however, I’m painfully aware that the chance of it making a difference to the majority of the me-first movement is leaner than some of the models on a runway in Paris. We should at least give it serious consideration, and let the flakes fall where they may.

One argument against the concept is that storms like the one we shovelled our way out of a couple of weeks ago are so rare that any call for a change in legislation is a tread too far. Perhaps the perilous state of our climate should reinforce the notion that we’re probably going to get white-whacked again before the showers of April arrive. That should underline the need to embrace effort to reduce the mayhem on our roads that unfolds every damn time it snows. Inflicting a hefty fine on drivers who get caught spinning their wheels without the slightest regard for the rest of us is a pretty good place to start. We shouldn’t have to form a new layer of bureaucracy to add that tweak to the Motor Vehicle Act. Maybe attach some community service to the fine so violators can chew on the consequences of their actions.

Rick Stiebel is a semi-retired local journalist.

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