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The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are reminding motorists that they need to adapt their driving behaviour to the winter conditions

OPP cruiser on scene of crash resulting from poor weather conditions struck by tractor trailer

AURORA, ON, Jan. 3 /CNW/ - The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are reminding motorists that they need to adapt their driving behaviour to the winter conditions we are experiencing around the province. Heavy snowfalls that are hitting Ontario this morning have led to hundreds of "fender-benders" and a number of crashes on roads the OPP patrols. Still, far too many motorists are not adjusting their driving to compensate for the poor weather and road conditions and as a result risking the lives and safety of everyone, in particular emergency services personnel who are out helping people who are in trouble. In one particular case yesterday evening in Nipigon, Northwestern Ontario, an OPP cruiser on scene of weather related crash was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer who came upon the scene. The officer was transported to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. "This is yet again another example of how our officers are needlessly risking their own safety because still, far too many motorists are not adjusting their driving to compensate for the poor weather and road conditions," said Commissioner Julian Fantino. Sgt. Dave Woodford from the Highway Safety Division is urging drivers not to venture out on the highways if it is not necessary. Drivers traveling to scheduled events should check with their destination to assure the event has not been cancelled. Weather forecasters have been warning residents we would be getting some snow and seeing snow squalls throughout the day and into the evening. "Speed and aggressive driving are the two major causes of crashes at this time of year. Most of today's occurrences could have - and should have - been avoided," Fantino added.

Motorists are reminded to:

- Slow down and drive to the weather and road conditions;

- Leave more space between vehicles. Stopping distances are at least
double on snowy roads, and even longer in icy conditions;

- Be ready for rapidly changing conditions. Blowing snow may suddenly
reduce visibility, and gusting winds can cause ice to form quickly;

- Know where you are. Keep track of intersections as you pass them in
case you need to call for help in an emergency;

- Check your headlights to make sure they are working;

- Clean your windshield (inside and out);

- Fill your windshield washer fluid reservoir;

- Always keep your gas tank at least half full at this time of year;

- Dress for winter;

- Keep a winter survival kit in your vehicle (blanket, flashlight,
candle, cell phone and some food or drinks.

- Monitor road and weather conditions.

Check local media and road authority websites for conditions and closures before you leave home or work and listen to local radio during your journey; Check the Ministry of Transportation Website (www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/traveller/conditions) prior to setting out on any trip during the winter - Do not call 911 or the OPP for road reports. On/off ramps and overpasses tend to ice up in this type of weather and snow builds up where plows have cleared the highways. Motorists should also pick one lane and stay in it unless they are exiting the highway. Slush from car tires between lanes can be thrown up by cars in front, covering windshields, and making it difficult for windshield wipers to clear it. "If the driving conditions are poor or bad weather is predicted consider postponing your trip. However, if you must travel, do so with caution. Slow down, pay close attention to the conditions around you and be sure everyone in your vehicle are wearing their seat belts."

For further information: Sgt. Dave Woodford, OPP Media Relations, Highway Safety Division, (416) 553-5471

Sgt. Dave Woodford    1/3/2010


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