Regardless of how good we’ve been, in his travels through Calgary, Santa won’t be delivering a comprehensive snow clearing program — not this year. In fact, we’re probably a long way from the kind of overhaul most drivers want to see, so we would be wise to up our game in the interim.
Council has only approved $2 million for extra snow clearing machinery and a $1-million pilot project that will look at outsourcing residential clearing. That brings our snow clearing budget up to $27 million, still much less than Edmonton’s $50 million. The forecast is clear – more sketchy days ahead on city streets.
While the city may be on the hook for humble snow clearing, it’s Calgary drivers who are on the hook for bad driving. I’m guessing accidents would be cut in half if inexperienced and insecure winter drivers parked for the season. Alternately, these drivers could become roadworthy with a winter driving course.
Winter driving requires extra skills — skid recovery, traction control and emergency manoeuvres. Not every driver is up to the task.
Another group of drivers who might consider parking are those without winter tires. These folks are easy to spot — they’re the ones sliding down hills, swerving left to right up ramps and over bridge decks, skating through intersections and clipping the curbs. Auto industry experts agree winter tires reduce collisions.
For us cold-weather warriors, drive by these commandments for Calgary’s winter roads. Ensure your vehicle is mechanically sound for sub-zero conditions and drive with no less than a half tank of gas. Stalling out on Crowchild is bad form.
Vision is not overrated, so use your windshield scraper and brush. I’m baffled as to why this needs to be mentioned — most people wouldn’t sign on the dotted line if their glasses were fogged, enveloped in ice or covered in snow, but too many will operate a moving vehicle without being able to sufficiently see out of it. Further, keep the windshield washer fluid topped for slush, the sunglasses out for the season’s low lying sun and turn on the headlights for the early evening sunset.
Back off. We all need a little more space when the roads are slick, so that means increasing the distance between your vehicle and others, and allowing enough time to stop at intersections.
We don’t need to be at the mercy of the meteorologists. We need to be in control of our vehicles.
Adrienne Beattie is a Calgary-born writer who has covered urban issues since 2001 and has an English degree from the University of Calgary.