Monday brought a preview of winter in the mountains while fall filled the Trail valley. (Guy Bertrand photo)

RCMP warn ‘drive to conditions’ as winter blasts West Kootenay

Arctic air system brings snow and freezing temperatures to the Kootenays

Winter blew into the region early this year, draping mountain passes along Highway 3, and Rossland, with a coat of white over the weekend.

Fortunately, the early dump did not wreak too much havoc on the highways, even though the 20+ centimetre accumulation of snow came days before Oct. 1, when winter tires become mandatory on most B.C. highways.

“Thankfully, there were no serious collisions on the Paulson Pass or Kootenay Pass where we saw significant amounts of snowfall,” Sgt. Chad Badry from West Kootenay Traffic Services, told the Trail Times.

“We responded to one call of a possible crash on the Paulson, but the vehicle was likely just stuck and self-extricated,” he said.

“There was a single vehicle crash in Rossland related to the snowfall, but no significant injuries resulted.”

He reminds all drivers, as it turns out, today is the start of the BC RCMP’s “Drive Relative to Conditions” campaign that runs for the month of October.

For the next four weeks, police will be out in force locally and across the province, stopping drivers and checking vehicles to ensure motorists are safe and vehicles are properly equipped to meet winter driving conditions.

According to provincial statistics, an average of 43 people die every year in B.C. in collisions where vehicles were being driven too fast for road conditions.

As the daylight hours get shorter and the weather becomes more inclement, the BC RCMP remind motorists of a few things they can do to arrive safely at their destinations:

• Replace windshield wipers to improve visibility and clear all windows of fog/ice and snow before driving

• Clean your vehicle’s windows in and out, use air conditioning at a comfortable temperature so windows don’t fog up, and consider applying products to the exterior glass that repels water to improve visibility

• Check your tires to ensure they are in good condition, have sufficient tread depth and are properly inflated

• Turn your headlights to the “On” or “Auto” position – this ensures your tail lights come on as well so you can be seen from behind. Make sure all your lights, signals and brake lights are fully functional

• Do not use cruise control on wet/snowy/slippery road surfaces

• Increase the distance between you and vehicles ahead to give yourself more time to stop, especially if it is raining/snowing/slippery/foggy/night time

• Slow down especially if it is raining/snowing/foggy or any other time your visibility is limited. Posted speed limits assume ideal driving conditions

• Be extra vigilant for cyclists and pedestrians who may be unpredictable and not clearly visible

• Watch out for “black ice” as temperatures drop to freezing; and Give yourself extra time to get to your destination

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