Gateway Gazette

Snow in September: First Snowfall 2014

RCMP & Sheriffs – Alberta Integrated Traffic Services. First Snowfall, (yes in September) a Reminder for All Albertans about Safe Winter Driving.

20140910_082745_resized_1The QEII Highway between Calgary and Carstairs experienced an early taste of winter this morning. As a result of the unexpected snow, drivers experienced delays and poor driving conditions. Several minor collisions occurred with numerous vehicles ending up in the centre median.

“Usually Albertans begin the annual transition from summer driving to winter driving conditions in October, but this Snow in September has taken most drivers by surprise.” Says Cpl. Darrin Turnbull. “This first snowfall is a reminder and an opportunity to get prepared for winter driving, which means preparing our vehicles and adjusting our driving to conditions that include snow and slush covered highways, black ice and blizzards”

Officers on the QEII would like to share the following tips on how to make the transition from summer to winter driving conditions a little easier.

Winter Driving Tips:

Slow down when highway conditions are not ideal. The posted speed limit is intended for ideal road conditions. Even if the posted speed is 110 km/h, that doesn’t mean you should travel at that speed if road conditions or visibility are poor. Motorists have a legal obligation to drive according to road conditions. You can be charged with a traffic offence if you drive too fast for the conditions.

Never use cruise control in winter conditions. Avoid sudden moves by anticipating turns or lane changes. Abrupt changes in direction or slamming on the brakes could cause you to spin out of control.

Stay in the traveled lane and out of wet, slushy and heavy snow. This slush can cause a vehicle to lose steering control and it will likely end up in the ditch.

Know your braking system and how it reacts on ice. Always be gentle with braking pressure on slick roads. On a wet or slick surface, allow yourself at least three times the normal following distance to stop.

Keep your eyes focused on the road ahead of you. If something is going to go wrong ahead of you on the road, you need more time to be able to react when road conditions are poor.

Unless travel is absolutely necessary, stay off the roads during major storms. If you must travel, plan to take the safest, shortest route possible and ensure you have your winter emergency kit in the vehicle.
Remember that bridge decks may be slippery even when other parts of the highway are not, since they are subject to greater temperature fluctuations.

Traction is of the utmost importance for winter driving and winter tires provide the best option. If it is at all possible, make the investment in winter tires. It is not recommended to travel in winter conditions if your vehicle is equipped with summer tires.

For your comfort, safety and peace of mind, you should carry an emergency road kit in your vehicle’s trunk or cargo space. Pack or replenish these supplies:
· blanket or sleeping bag
· extra clothing and footwear
· emergency non-perishable food
· candle in a deep tin
· waterproof matches
· first aid kit
· flashlight with extra batteries
· fire extinguisher
· booster cables
· ice scraper
· snow brush
· paper towels or rags
· road map
· compass
· sand, road salt or kitty litter, and
· shovel
· ensure your cell phone is charged

QEII officers recommend checking the Official Road Reports at @511Alberta (511.alberta.ca) before traveling on Alberta highways as conditions can change significantly across the province.

Integrated Traffic Units consist of RCMP Traffic Services members and Sheriff Highway Patrol officers working together in a collaborative effort to deliver effective and efficient traffic safety services to Albertans, with a focus on identified enforcement priorities.

Follow us on twitter @QEIITraffic

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