On Wednesday a white, foreign substance fell from the sky. And, wouldn’t you know it, it accumulated on the ground.
Undaunted, commuters went about their day as planned, some of them oblivious to this unfamiliar substance. Then, as predictable as the sun rising in the sky, a rash of vehicle accidents occurred.
It seems when Old Man Winter returns every year, he casts a spell upon some drivers, convincing them that the snow on the ground is nothing more than a minor irritant. You would think in a province that can experience winter conditions for half of the year, we’d all be pros at driving in bad weather, but this is not the case. It’s become a winter tradition that on the first major snowfall of the season there are multiple accidents.
St. Albert RCMP responded to 16 collisions on Wednesday, including four collisions that involved three school buses – yes, one bus was hit twice. Luckily in most cases, no one was seriously hurt.
St. Albert was not alone experiencing a sudden rash of accidents; in Edmonton police responded to 83 incidents between 6 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. These incidents slowed traffic on most major roads and caused headaches for commuters and businesses alike. Christmas came early for the body shops and automotive repair folks.
When the weather changes, our driving habits should change too. We need to slow down and take our time. When the roads are slippery, stopping distances lengthen and it can be difficult to manoeuvre. For whatever reason, many people didn’t see winter coming and haven’t put on winter tires yet either, which adds to the unsafe driving environment.
These winter driving problems can be exacerbated on a weekday morning because people don’t give themselves enough time to clean off their vehicles before they begin their commute. As a result some people will drive their cars with the back window covered in snow, and snow sliding off the hood over the windshield. Toss in slippery road conditions and rush hour driving, and you’ve got the perfect mix for a disaster.
Winter comes roughly the same time every year, so we all should be prepared. Give yourself extra time to clear off snow and drive slower than normal. Don’t tailgate or speed. Turn your lights on so other drivers can see you. Be aware of other drivers. When there is snow or ice on the road, don’t make sudden turns or stops or you might lose control. This should all be common sense, but unfortunately common sense isn’t all that common sometimes.
We all share the road and we all have an obligation to drive safe. The calendar says early November.
Winter is here. We need to be prepared, plan ahead and put safety first.