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Police warn even with good road maintenance drivers must take care

WELLINGTON CTY. - Winter arrived with the new year and snow has blanketed the roads.

OPP Constable Mark Cloes said that while Wellington County enjoys some of the best maintained roads, people might still find themselves travelling in some snow covered areas, so the county OPP is offer some  driving tips that may help people avoid sliding off the road into a ditch.

Cloes said the first suggestion is to see and be seen in poor lighting conditions. When blowing snow and white-outs reduce visibility, people should turn on the vehicle’s full lighting system

They should also:

- leave plenty of space between the vehicle and the vehicle ahead. During poor weather conditions, stay well back;

- remember to look far ahead to recognize hazards and have plenty of time to respond;

- adjust driving to the road and weather conditions. Slow down and avoid sudden jerking of the steering wheel, and sudden braking and accelerating that could cause a skid. In a skid, decelerate by taking the foot off the brake, step on the clutch with a standard shift or shift to neutral with an automatic transmission, then decide where the vehicle should go and steer in that direction;

- be careful when approaching shaded areas, bridges, and overpasses. Those sections of the road will freeze much sooner in cold weather and stay frozen long after the sun has risen;

- watch for ice on areas of the road that appear black and shiny, as they can cause a vehicle to suddenly lose traction, and then slow down, keep the foot off the brake, and be ready to shift to neutral or step on the clutch as the vehicle crosses those areas;

- on snowy or slush covered roads, large trucks and buses can splash slush or blow snow onto the windshield causing a sudden loss of visibility. Always drive defensively and leave enough space to avoid their snow spray;

- do not drive with cruise control in the winter;

Safety at rail crossings

With the season’s first snow accumulations reported in various parts of the country and parents driving kids to school and early morning hockey practices Operation Lifesaver takes the opportunity of National Safe Driving Week to remind Canadian motorists to exercise greater care and caution at highway-railway crossings.

“Much like the 1,100 passenger and goods trains that travel through Canada every day over some of the world’s most rugged terrain and in some of the world’s worst weather conditions, Canadians must exercise care and good judgment when approaching grade crossings at all times but especially in winter,” said Operation Lifesaver’s national director Dan Di Tota.

Drivers should prepare and adjust for a winter The Farmer’s Almanac forecasts will be “cold to very cold, from Alberta east across Saskatchewan and Manitoba into western Ontario.”

Heavy snowfall, blowing snow, snow covered roads, and icy conditions are among the many reasons accidents occur on Canadian roads. Without proper caution, those conditions can prove deadly at rail crossings.

Operation Lifesaver reminds Canadians to:

- clear snow and ice from all windows before departing;

- replace summer wiper blades with rugged winter blades; and

- ensure windows are free of condensation on the inside and ice on the outside by ensuring proper defrosting.

Operation Lifesaver also urges Canadians to adjust their driving habits and:

- approach crossings cautiously;

- leave extra space between vehicles (stopping distances are at least double on snowy roads and even longer on icy roads);

- look in both directions;

- listen for approaching trains;

- obey warning signals and stay off railway property; and

- stay off and away from railway tracks if driving a a snowmobile.

“The sound of snowmobile engines can mask the sound of approaching trains, or a ski can get caught in track switches,” Di Tota warned. “Either way, the result can be deadly.”

Since 1980 the number of crossing collisions (where a train and motor vehicle collide) in Canada has fallen dramatically from over 800 annually to approximately 200 in 2010. While that reduction speaks to the success of safety efforts undertaken in that time, there still remains unnecessary loss of life and injury with 79 fatalities and 47 serious injuries occurring in 2010 as a result of crossing collisions and trespassing on rail property.

Operation Lifesaver was established in Canada in 1981 and is a national public-rail safety program sponsored by Transport Canada and the Railway Association of Canada.

January 13, 2012


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