Driving from Vancouver to Whistler can be dangerous at times. With rain now settled into British Columbia’s ‘Wet Coast,’ and the winter months fast approaching, new travelers to the area may be in need of safety tips to handle the road conditions and the drive from Whistler to Vancouver. The Sea to Sky Highway is not a highway to mess around with, although accidents have reduced by 66% since the expansion and construction finished prior to the 2010 Olympics. Designed to be a much safer commute between Whistler and Vancouver, the Sea to Sky Highway has developed into a bit of a race track during the summer months.
However, for first time travelers to the area, this smooth drive to Whistler can present relentless speeds without realizing it as you descend down steep inclines and approach tight curvy sections of road. In some sections, the Sea to Sky Highway still narrows down from two lanes to one lane to maneuver around the large granite mountainsides.
Given the unknown variables and seasonally wet driving conditions, first time travelers or drivers should drive the Sea to Sky Highway with caution, especially in the relentless rain and snow seasons.
1. Maintain a Safe Driving Distance Between Cars.
With the road conditions in the autumn and winter months, stopping will take longer on slippery sections of road. There are still several sections of the highway with blind curvy sections that prevent drivers from seeing what’s around the corner.
2. Follow the Posted Speed Limits and Slow for Conditions.
As mentioned, some of the steep inclines can increase relentless speeds if you are unaware of your surroundings and simply feel like coasting down the hills. Having driven the Sea-to-Sky Highway several times since the construction finished, do not challenge the slippery Whistler driving conditions by going faster than the posted limit or conditions allow for.
You will find that it’s very easy to lose control or skid out of control if you do.
3. Watch for Black Ice.
As you approach Whistler, temperatures will drop causing patches of black ice that all motorists need to watch out for. The Whistler driving conditions can be slick and icy, especially on bridges, overpasses, and other shaded areas. Take the advertised “Drive with caution” seriously as the patches of black ice are often invisible during the winter months of December to early February.
4. Gradual Vehicle Acceleration and Braking.
Depending on the type of vehicle you’re driving, I’ve personally found it easy to spin the tires accidentally in the wet conditions causing a loss of traction and spinning of the wheels. This has caused my back end to slide out in the past nearly clipping another vehicle. Take my warning seriously, brake slowly and accelerate slowly driving to Whistler. It’s enough to lose traction and control while braking or accelerating with Sea-to-Sky road conditions.
5. Keep Calm and Steer On.
With the expansion of the Sea-to-Sky Highway, motorists are finding that there are more opportunities to pass slow moving traffic. Unfortunately, for those that are in a hurry or are unnecessarily driving fast, the Whistler driving conditions on the Sea-to-Sky Highway can create accidents for those that are challenging the rules of road. Arriving five to ten minutes earlier doesn’t make much difference if you’re going for a weekend ski vacation. Losing legs or having an inoperable car will make a difference on that weekend ski vacation.
Take it easy, pay attention to the road and motorists around you. Avoid any sudden passes or movements by accelerating and braking gently, while anticipating upcoming turns, stops, or potential merging lanes. Do not challenge the last two hundred of a merge lane to make a pass.
6. Controlling a Vehicle Skid.
In the event that you do lose control and find yourself skidding out of control, it’s important how to handle them to avoid others. To regain control of your vehicle, ease off the accelerator or brakes and steer smoothly in the direction you want to go. If you find yourself skidding on a patch of black ice, try to skid straight and then either grab the clutch or shift to neutral.
The one great thing that the 2010 Olympics did do is force the improvement of B.C’s most dangerous highway. It’s a much easier and relaxing commute to drive to Whistler from Vancouver or Seattle because of the improvements that were made. However, if you’re not careful or take your eyes off the road in the generally wet and slippery months, accidents can happen. We’d hate to see you have a bad start to your vacation.
If you find yourself stressing out a little, then stop in for a visit at some of our recommended points of interest, think about your weekend in Whistler and grab a coffee at the Tim Hortons in Squamish.