COCHRANE— Winter has arrived in Cochrane, and with it comes the need to drive cautiously to keep others safe.
Cochrane RCMP Cpl. Troy Savinkoff said the first heavy snowstorm of the winter resulted in minimal collisions— A total of two collisions were reported in Cochrane and two were reported in the Kananaskis area over the weekend. He added RCMP saw a fair amount of collisions in the first snowfall last week.
On heavy snow days with a lot of collisions, he said, the goal is to keep roadways as safe as possible.
There is a real risk for community members when people fail to slow down and drive safely when roads are dangerous and slippery.
“That first snowfall is always a bad one,” he said.
RCMP typically sees an uptick in collisions when winter first arrives, but as the weather is established and drivers adapt to the road conditions there is a decline in the number of accidents.
“Especially in this area, it’s when that wet snow comes down it melts when it hits the roadway. But, then it immediately freezes because outside would be just above freezing,” Savinkoff said. “What happens is you’ll get that layer of ice and then fresh wet snowfalls on that ice and that’s when it turns into just a mess.”
Savinkoff said RCMP typically sees a couple of snowfalls each year in the Cochrane region that create the perfect conditions for dangerous, icy roads and at times can even result in the shutdown of the 1A Highway coming down Cochrane Hill.
“People can’t get up it anymore and we basically shut it down until the sanding trucks can get in and get it all melted up,” Savinkoff said.
He added the most pressing issue on the hill during these conditions are drivers struggling to make it to the top. Savinkoff has seen many minor collisions, including times where drivers have slipped sideways on the way up, spin out and hit the guard rail.
“You’ll get several collisions … all at once,” Savinkoff said.
To help alleviate these traffic issues when the big hill is dangerous RCMP will redirect people to drive through GlenEagles which is safer.
One of the most important steps people can take to stay on the road when the snow is flying is to ensure they have put winter tires on their car to proper traction, he said. The RCMP also encourage drivers looking to take to the road during dangerous snowfalls to stay home if they can.
If one needs to be on the road, Savinkoff said, the key is to drive slowly and drive safe.
“You always notice even when the conditions are super treacherous you still get people driving at normal highway speeds— You need to realize those speeds are designated for perfect driving conditions not when things are super slippery,” Savinkoff said. “I’m always amazed that even in those dangerous, dangerous, dangerous days where the roads are slippery you can still stop a lot of people for speeding.”