Skip to main content

Expect heavier traffic this September as a new BCAA survey shows more people will head back to the office, adding to back to school season driving concerns

August 31, 2023, Burnaby, B.C. - B.C. drivers are bracing for a chaotic commute during the first few weeks back to school and work after a summer of lighter traffic, reveals a new BCAA survey.

According to the survey conducted for BCAA by Leger, more B.C. drivers will be on the road this September with 35% saying they will be working in the office more frequently than they did a year ago. This is expected to add extra volume to what is traditionally one of the busiest times of the year on the roads.

The survey reveals that many drivers are dreading their ‘back to reality’ commutes with 90% expecting to deal with impatient, aggressive drivers. Meanwhile, 89% are preparing to see more distracted driving and multi-tasking, including mobile phone use, eating, and applying make-up, 78% of commuters expect to be on the road longer and 52% say there’s nothing they can do except be frustrated and lose their cool as they head back.

Shawn Pettipas, BCAA’s Director of Community Engagement is concerned about how the increase in traffic at a busy back-to-school time will cause unsafe conditions. “After a relatively quiet summer with plenty of vacation time, everyone’s a bit rusty,” he says. “It’s a shock to the system heading back to the regular routine after the summer and no one is their best driving selves at the beginning of September.”

The combination of high traffic volumes and distracted, frustrated drivers can be the recipe for dangerous situations – especially around busy school zones. While it may seem like nothing can be done, he disagrees, “I understand that people feel powerless but there are things that every driver can do before and during their commute to minimize stress and have a smoother trip.”

While British Columbians know the commute is coming, 76% don’t feel equipped to prepare for their commute. BCAA’s tips to prepare for that post-summer commute to help drivers feel confident heading back to work or back to school include:

  • Avoid rushing – Rushing is the number one cause of distraction and unsafe driving. Pettipas suggests preparing as much as you can in advance such as packing lunches and choosing clothes to wear the night before. If possible, change your nightly routine some time in advance of the first day back to school or work so everyone is getting more sleep.
  • Plan your route (and an alternative) – Stay close to traffic news so you can be ready for conditions ahead. Remain aware of where construction might be happening and take an alternate route if possible.
  • Carpool – Free up some space on the road and take turns sharing the drive with someone you know who is headed the same way.
  • Know where to park – Check the parking options of your destination ahead of time, especially if it’s a new location. This can help drivers stay calm as they reach the end of their trip.
  • Take public transit – Finding an alternative way to get to work or school might be the best bet if you are frustrated with driving. Check your local public transit routes to see if you can get to your destination without a car.

As a parent, Pettipas finds planning and communication the key in terms of keeping everyone calm before heading out. As a manager at BCAA, he avoids calling early meetings and makes sure his team knows that if they need a bit more time to get to the office those first few weeks back, then they should take it. “Nothing is more important than safe driving and as a driver that all starts with me.”


About This Survey

These results are based on an online survey of a representative sample of 1,001 adult British Columbi-ans, including 881 drivers and 473 commuters, surveyed using Leger's panel, LEO, from August 18-21, 2023. As a non-random internet survey, a margin of error is not reported. For comparison, a probabil-ity sample of n=1,001 would have a margin of error of ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Any discrepancies between totals are due to rounding.

About BCAA

BCAA (British Columbia Automobile Association) is a purpose-driven Member-based organization delivering peace of mind to our Members and customers across B.C. with proven protection and mobility solutions as one of Canada’s Most Trusted brands in association with CAA (Canadian Automobile Association). With more than one million Members, BCAA serves 1 in 3 B.C. households with industry-leading products and has a long history of keeping our roads safe and giving back in ways that improve the lives of British Columbians and communities throughout our province.

For further information or to set up an interview, please contact: 

Stephanie Thatcher
BCAA Communication Specialist
      Keiko Jacobs
BCAA Communication Specialist