Ontario Provincial Police and Ministry of Transportation say speed the most important thing to consider

Ontario Provincial Police and Ministry of Transportation are asking drivers to slow down on KW’s snowy roads this weekend. (CBC)

With a warning for snow and freezing drizzle for this upcoming holiday weekend around Ontario, government officials are cautioning the travelling public to stay safe on the road.

“It’s going to be turning much colder, starting on Christmas morning. Temperatures are well below normal on Christmas, and pretty much for the rest of the month of December,” said Geoff Coulson, a warning preparedness meteorologist at Environment Canada.

“Anyone planning travel during the holiday season should stay on top of weather forecasts,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of variable conditions over the course of the coming days.”

Coulson said it’s likely a lot of snow will be hitting areas like Perth County and Huron over the next few days.

Safe driving

Joshua Henry​, an adviser from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, said the three key elements to driving safely in the winter are staying alert, slowing down and staying in control.

“Slippery roads require slower speeds, as do storm conditions that reduce visibility,” he told CBC News.

Kerry Schmidt, with the highway safety division of the Ontario Provincial Police, said the most common cause of collisions are “driver errors” and not weather or road conditions.

“It’s aggressive driving, speeding too fast for the conditions, distracted driving — those are all common issues that we see over and over again,” he said.

Schmidt said a single driver can cause multiple collisions to occur.

“Sometimes those secondary crashes are a lot more risk than the fender-bender that might’ve happened to set off this delay,” he said.

Schmidt is asking drivers to slow down and give the vehicle in front of them a lot of space this weekend because of the “mixed types of volumes” the roads will have.

“If you give yourself enough following distance, you’ll have time to make those adjustments,” he said. “Don’t just look over the hood of your vehicle, but look down the horizon and watch for what’s happening.”

In addition, he said drivers should make sure their vehicles are suitable to drive in winter conditions. The car should be have winter tires, wipers working well and ice should be brushed off before hitting the road, he said.

Distant destinations

Schmidt said people travelling long distances should also have their phone charged, an emergency kit in hand and should know how to change a flat tire.

“And know where you are,” he added.

“Sometimes driving in an unfamiliar area can be confusing and stressful, but if you take your time, plan ahead, then you shouldn’t have any problem,” said Schmidt.

The Ministry of Transportation also issued these tips: ​

  • Leave more space between vehicles and/or plowing equipment ahead — winter conditions demand more space for safe stopping and plow operators need to travel more slowly than regular traffic to do the job right.
  • Be smart — take breaks and avoid fatigue.
  • Make the right choices. If it’s stormy out, consider whether it’s necessary to head out on the road.
  • Never pass a working snow plow. It is extremely dangerous to pass between or around plows because they create blowing snow and can reduce visibility for you and the plow operator.

Source: CBC News