OPP: Drivers failed first winter test

Western Region OPP officials say they were left shaking their heads following the first major accumulation of snow in the region.  

The OPP responded to over 273 motor vehicle incidents between Dec. 26 at 8am and Dec. 27 at 8am.

Police say they were kept extremely busy responding to one call after another as vehicles continued to strike each other and/or run off the roadway into the ditch.

Police add the only silver lining is there were no reports of serious injury or death during this 24 hour period.  

A member of the Middlesex OPP narrowly escaped injury after his vehicle was slammed into from behind by another motorist on Dec. 26.

The officer had just got out of the cruiser to check on the well-being of another motorist who had just run off the roadway, when the cruiser was struck.

Neither the offending driver nor the officer was injured during the collision.      

“The issue here isn’t the weather; we can’t change that, it’s driver’s reluctance to slow down during adverse weather conditions,” said Sgt. David Rektor.

He noted motorists continued to drive along at 100 to 110km/h during the storm when in actuality; they should have been doing 60 to 70km/h on certain highways.

“There is no magic to winter driving. When you see snow, go slow. That’s it,” Rektor said.

In most collision investigations and in incidents where people have run off the roadway, police say the leading cause is speeding.   

The OPP urges all motorists to slow down and drive according to the road and weather conditions. If they’re not comfortable driving in winter conditions, police suggest taking a course on how to drive on snow, or wait until there are favourable road and weather conditions.

Police say major highways or secondary roadways are no place to practice driving.

Winter tips

In an effort to improve safety and reduce the amount of winter accidents, the OPP has offered the following winter driving tips.

While all-season tires may be adequate in some areas of the province, they are not made for driving in snowbelt regions and throughout the north. Winter tires will improve driving safety by providing better traction and handling through snow, slush and ice. They will also provide greater stability and control of the vehicle and will help to reduce stopping distances in slippery driving conditions.

Before hitting the road, check weather and travel conditions and don’t take chances if the weather is bad. Call 511 for information about current road conditions or go online at ontario.ca/trip.

This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and road conditions are normally updated five times daily and more often as highway closures occur or as conditions change.

Drive slow and look far ahead while driving to can recognize hazards in advance and have plenty of time to respond. Adjust driving to current weather and road conditions and reduce speed when the roads are slippery or slushy. Remember that bridges and overpasses freeze more quickly and stay frozen longer and black ice on the road can cause vehicles to suddenly lose control.

It’s best to carry a winter survival kit while travelling. Extra clothing, winter boots, blankets and granola or chocolate bars are also recommended, and a candle and waterproof matches can help heat the interior of a vehicle if it stalls.

If winter conditions make drivers feel nervous, uncomfortable or fearful, they should stay off the road unless the trip is absolutely necessary.

Take responsibly for one’s own vehicle and driving habits. Everyone can do their part to ensure everyone makes it home safely.