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Police bracing for next winter wallop

Motorists urged to slow down to prevent crashes
winter driving
A snowfall warning is in effect but hopefully we won't see whiteout conditions like Thursday. Sue Sgambati/BarrieToday

Barrie and the surrounding area could be hammered with another 15 to 20 cm of snow tonight as people spent the day digging out from Thursday's storm.

Police from across the region were tallying the number of collisions as whiteouts and slippery roads made for treacherous driving conditions. 

Over 42 crashes were reported to Barrie Police within a 30 hour period, most of them minor in nature. 

The storm appeared to bring out the best in some people.

"I have to give citizens credit," said Barrie Police Traffic Sgt. Mark Hyatt. "There were a lot of motorists stuck in snowbanks and ditches. I saw a lot of people out helping others. Kind of nice to see."

Heading into tonight's storm, Hyatt's best advice is don't go out if you don't have to. 

The collision count for South Simcoe Police was 26 crashes and there were no injuries. 

Staff Sgt. Steve Wilson hopes people learned yesterday's snowy lesson to adjust driving to the weather.

"Speed limits are intended for ideal conditions.  What we have been seeing this week are less than ideal conditions so please slow down and adjust your speed accordingly. Give yourself extra time and distance."

Wilson says almost all the collisions in his jurisdiction can be blamed on people driving too fast and then sliding into a car or ditch.

Police urge you to fully clear off your car and properly warm it up. 

"We had a case this morning where we almost had a collision because the car was still all covered in snow in the back end and the driver behind couldn't see the signal lights at all," said Wilson. 

The OPP report more than 500 crashes in the GTA on Thursday and again, for the most part all very minor in nature.

OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt says on the highways, the snow forced people to slow down but that only prevented serious crashes.

"Traffic was going about 5 km an hour. But lots crashes with drivers not paying attention to where they're going. Some were single vehicle with vehicles going into walls, ditches but most of them were fender-benders, side-swipes, rear-end collisions."

Schmidt says he heard one story of a driver whose vehicle was stuck who was trying to steer the car with one hand, trying to push with their feet while using a snow brush to press the gas.

He talked to one driver who went into blinding whiteout conditions had no idea where the car was going and drove right off the road into a ditch.

He says give yourself enough following distance to give yourself time to stop.

"A small tap to the vehicle in front of you is going to cause all kinds of headaches for you and everyone behind you on the highway and cause huge amounts of congestion," said Schmidt.

A more recent risk-taker was discovered by South Simcoe Police this morning - but not on the roads.

Wilson says a guy was out on Lake Simcoe in an aluminum fishing boat and was not wearing a personal flotation device.

"It's dangerous given the conditions of the weather and the water," said Wilson. "We're between seasons on our boat and our main boat is out of the water. If there was an emergency out there we'd have to reach out to York region, our response time will be significantly reduced."

It's winter driving season, definitely.

Boating season is over for this year.

"It should be, yes," Wilson said.

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Sue Sgambati

About the Author: Sue Sgambati

Sue has had a 30-year career in journalism working for print, radio and TV. She is a proud member of the Barrie community.
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