Winter driving: Before you go, take the advice of a seasoned Sutco pro

Avoid transit gaffs by adhering to the insights of someone knowledgeable

Jim Hymer stands in front of his truck

Jim Hymer has been in the transportation industry for 47 years. — Photo courtesy Culleen Brophy

As winter’s wrath wreaks havoc on the Kootenays, it’s time for drivers to adjust driving habits. Beyond the basic and well-known rules of the road like slowing down in hazardous conditions and equipping your vehicle with snow tires, there are a few more things road users should be aware of.

“I feel we need to get back to a time when drivers had pride in a job well done to the best of their ability,” said Jim Hymer, a professional commercial driver for Sutco Transportation Specialists in Salmo. Hymer has been in the transportation industry for 47 years. Over that time, he’s seen it all.

“Last winter, there was about four inches (10 centimetres) of slush on the way into Penticton. A smart car overtakes me and the driver realizes he can’t stay straight in the slush. Instead of pulling over, he tried his best to not fishtail all the way into Penticton. People will risk life or limb to be in front of a large commercial vehicle—no patience whatsoever. I would like to see people respect what commercial drivers have to deal with on a daily basis.”

Hymer’s favourite route to drive is from Castlegar to the coast. Along this stretch as well as on all the others, he witnesses hazardous driving all the time. One of the big risks he sees regularly is drivers passing on downhill grades. “Be more aware of surroundings and think ahead,” he said. “Understand that suggested speed signs going into corners are not for the speed you can take the actual corner but for your line of sight.”

Winter driving in the Kootenays isn’t always going to be easy but it can be made safer by being responsible. “Be prepared—weather conditions can change so fast,” Hymer said. “Get proper rest and know your own limits.”

Kyle Born

Kyle Born is a writer for Kootenay Business and his initials match that of the magazine—it must be fate that brought them together. View all of Kyle Born’s articles

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