There is a “driving elephant” in the room that our authorities and bureaucrats seem to ignore.
In their zeal to maintain a clear-pavement policy, when the weather is near, or below, freezing, they promote the application of a mind-boggling amount of dirt, rocks and extremely-corrosive salt brine.
This filthy combination is bad enough in the daytime, as the salt grime will not wash off with windshield (with) wipers and wash. Driving into the sun, there is a terrible glare from this stuff.
On our highways, with the fenderless semis and other large vehicles, this stuff is continuously airborne, and you very quickly run out of washer fluid if you want your windshield transparent.
At night, this situation becomes a lot worse. I noticed this driving north on Highway 97 between Okanagan Falls and West Kelowna. The combination of vision-obscuring airborne salt-debris and it’s accumulation on the road lines made it a scary guessing game of which lane one’s vehicle was in.
This was made worse by the incredibly-intense blue-white LED headlights that are covered in salt grime, which in turn caused on-coming light-scatter glare to kill one’s night vision.
I’ve noticed that it takes a few seconds for vision to recover after an on-coming vehicle passes.
It’s a no-brainer to see how this situation could scare some drivers to the point of panic. I don’t get how the authorities can trade visibility for supposedly-better traction. I think most people would agree that the most-important aspect of safe driving is to be able to see where you are going.
The recent crash on (Peachland’s Highway 97) Drought Hill is a perfect example of this problem. I know people who have “run out” of visibility on the Coquihalla Highway, as their headlights were obscured by the flying salt and dirt.
A solution to this problem is possible. Snow tires should be required for our vehicles in winter, and not just on the mountain passes. Salt brine application needs to be stopped. Traction materials need to be finer and cleaner (not including dirt). Certain stretches of the highway need lighting or better lighting.
A variable speed limit should be in place in certain areas during low-traction and low-visibility situations. Reducing travel speed by 15 km/h will not make much of a travel-time difference but will make a huge difference in stopping and steering ability on slippery surfaces.
At least, you will get to where you are going safely, rather than collide with a semi head-on or drive into the ditch.
Andrew Kiesewetter, West Kelowna.