Staying cool and calm during winter driving

It feels like winter driving and collisions are an inevitable pair, and when bad weather comes, news of fatal accidents and horrendous driving conditions flood the news.

Despite the constant stream of news about collisions in Calgary, statistics have shown that from 2007-2011, Calgary has seen a decrease in the number of reportable collisions.

Const. Jim Lebedeff, who works in the Traffic Education unit, says that this drop could be contributed to people being “more prepared.”

“One of the biggest things [for preventing collisions] is preparing yourself,” Lebedeff said.

By finding out the weather from the news, internet or radio, drivers will get a better idea of what conditions they will be facing on their commute the next day.

This is especially important in our province, since weather in Calgary can change rapidly, causing extreme changes in road conditions.

“If you know it’s going to be lousy, give yourself extra time to get to your destination.”

Lebedeff explains that by waking up fifteen minutes earlier, you can give yourself extra time to better handle the road conditions and be courteous to other drivers.

Shelby Collett is a full-time student and a part-time employee who spends about an hour a day on some of Calgary’s busiest roads.

She has been in two accidents, one in 2010 and one in 2011, that were both reported to the police because of damage and says “bad weather definitely contributed to my accidents.”

“The best piece of advice [I have] is just go slow, and leave a bit early in the morning. You’re going to regret getting into an accident a lot more than being a few minutes late for work,” Collett said.

Being prepared is one of the best things a driver can do, especially in winter conditions, but Lebedeff said patience is just as important, if not more so.

“Be patient and be courteous,” Lebedeff said, “not everyone is as good of a driver as you are, so you need to account for that.”

Lebedeff uses the ‘three second rule’ example, where you should be at least three or four seconds behind the vehicle in front of you, and recommends doubling that time for winter.

Collett agrees, saying that drivers “have to be way more aware of other drivers when the weather is bad outside,” because you don’t know how experienced they are.

“Adjust your driving for the conditions of the road,” Lebedeff recommends, “don’t drive beyond your comfort zone.”

If that means going slower than the speed limit, it is perfectly acceptable for safety reasons.

Make sure your car is in good driving condition before driving in bad weather.

By ensuring you have winter tires, windshield washer fluid, a snow-free car and visible headlights, taillights and signal lights you can make the roads safer for yourself and other drivers.

Test your windshield wipers before driving, walk around your car and examine the weather before you start driving so are prepared.

“Often I’m on patrol and I see vehicles where just the wipers are going, and maybe the side windows are clear and that’s not good enough,” Lebedeff said.

Failure to clear windows is a ticketable offence up to 115 dollars, which can be enforced if officers feel the need.

Looking at the statistics that have been gathered from January 2012 to the end of September of 2012, many serious collisions (such as fatal and injury) have increased compared to 2011.

Lebedeff said a possible reason for these rising numbers is when weather “creeps up on people” which “causes a major influx in our statistics.”

“I’m hoping that Calgarians are listening and paying attention to this friendly advice that we give them,” Lebedeff said.

With more vehicles on Calgary roads than ever before, there are more chances to get into collisions so be careful and stay safe.

About Rebecca Friesen 9 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Rebecca Friesen worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2012-2013 academic year.