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Be prepared and use caution if you plan to travel Highway 3 over the holidays

Make sure to pack plenty of water and snacks, just in case

With the Coquihalla Highway set to reopen to commercial traffic Monday, the essential travel designation will be lifted from Highway 3 between Hope and Princeton on Tuesday, December 21, 2021.

Families eager to see loved ones over the holidays after months apart could be venturing out on the twisty, mountain route for the first time, or may have never driven it in the winter.

“I live in the Lower Mainland and I’ll be honest with you, I don’t get a lot of experience from year to year driving in this kind of weather. So, coming from the Lower Mainland going into the mountain passes, it does catch a lot of us off guard,” said Josh Smythe, BCAA’s fleet operations manager.

So what can you expect?

“Black ice, compacted snow, every bend and corner. It’s a windy road, it’s a hilly road. You want to make sure that when you do leave, leave with a lot of extra time in front of you as well,” advises Smythe.

“Give yourself that extra time to travel there safely, travel there slow enough for the condition, and just give yourself extra space between cars to get there safely.”

Check that your vehicle is ready to deal with winter conditions before you leave and always have good winter tires.

“You want to pace yourself. You want to be able to pull over and check your car. Make sure things are still good when you stop at the gas station. Check your tires, carry your tire chains with you, especially when you are going through mountain passes. You need to be prepared for the snow as it changes,” says Smythe.

Also, don’t forget to carry plenty of water and snacks, in case you get stopped for several hours because of unexpected road closures.

And before you pack the kids and all the gifts in the car, make sure to leave room for things like a snow shovel, emergency kit, extra washer fluid and something to give you grip, like cat litter, in case you need traction.