OPP Constable pulls over a speeding driver.

Chatham-Kent OPP Const. Janine Belanger talks to a driver whose speed registered 129 km/h on Highway 401 on Wednesday November 18, 2015 in Chatham, Ont. The OPP are focusing on speed enforcement to encourage good driving habits before winter weather hits the area. (Vicki Gough, The Daily News)

It may not feel like it yet, but winter is not too far off.

One only has to look to the Santa Claus parades coming to communities across Chatham-Kent this week to know December is near.

Since Chatham-Kent OPP see a spike in collisions during winter months, officers are asking drivers to start thinking now about their behaviour behind the wheel before the snow flies.

Const. Janine Belanger says collisions typically increase during the first three months of winter.

“We’re trying to change driving behaviour of people on highways leading into winter weather,” Belanger told The Daily News Wednesday.

For three consecutive months beginning December 2014, OPP officers were called to 515 crashes.

That’s an average of over five collisions a day on OPP-patrolled roadways which include highways 401 and 40.

Belanger said the local OPP detachment has set its focus on speed enforcement and aggressive drivers prior to the arrival of slick or snow-covered roadways to hopefully reduce the number of crashes tied to weather conditions.

Of the 515 crashes investigated during three months last winter, Belanger said 60 per cent were a result of loss of vehicle control. In other words, drivers travelling too fast for road conditions, she added.

The Chatham-Kent OPP statistics also show crashes increase during the morning and afternoon commute times.

The focused enforcement on speeding was recently marked with five drivers stopped for travelling more than 50 km/h over the posted limit on Highway 401.

“That’s remarkable that we would get five stunt driving charges in one weekend,” Belanger said.

During a ride along with the OPP on Highway 401 Wednesday, a driver was clocked on radar travelling 129 km/h.

While drivers give officers an array of excuses when stopped for speeding, Belanger said traffic stops can also lead to other charges laid for things like seat belt and child seat infractions.

“When speaking with the driver, we make observations in the vehicle and that can end up with more than one issue,” Belanger said.

To get road ready for winter the OPP is also recommending people start organizing a winter driving emergency kit consisting of:

    • Food that won’t spoil, such as energy bars;
    • Water — plastic bottles that won’t break if the water freezes (replace them every six months);
    • Blanket;
    • Extra clothing and shoes or boots;
    • First aid kit with seatbelt cutter;
    • Small shovel, scraper and snow brush;
    • Candle in a deep can and matches;
    • Wind-up flashlight;
    • Whistle — in case you need to attract attention;
    • Road maps;
    • Copy of your emergency plan.
    • Items to keep in your trunk should include:
    • Sand, salt or cat litter (non-clumping);
    • Antifreeze and windshield washer fluid;
    • Tow rope;
    • Jumper cables;
    • Fire extinguisher;
    • Warning light or road flares.

Crashes not only can lead to injuries or death, they impact emergency crews safety and disrupt immeasurable numbers of drivers forced to use detours.

“It can cause chaos on highways dealing with collisions and traffic back-ups,” Belanger said.

Source: Chatham Daily News