Hello neighbor and welcome back to the Blotter, and what a week its been here in the Ridge. Yesterday was a big day at our house: Our eldest daughter turned 18 years old. I can?t believe it, the fruit of our loins has reached the age of majority. As we were talking with her about adulthood, about going to university in the fall and about boys and their evil intentions etc, only one thing seemed to sink in. The loss of her bedroom. This discussion registered a 9 out of 10 on the attention scale.
When she was advised that her younger sister could have the room in the fall, well, that?s when things went silent. When a bright, young gal goes quiet, you just know there?s going to be problems. She listened to her younger sister?s plans for the room, and how her mom and dad were going to help chuck out a ton of ?junk.? She didn?t say a word. It?s not often that a Dad gets this many free jabs at his eldest daughter so I really began to pour it on. We talked about a total redesign, new furniture, new paint, internet hookup and how the room will be so much better than it is now. And that?s when she put the total conversation in perspective in just one sentence. She looked at her Mom and Dad and said, ?Please don?t make me live with my boyfriend!? And that?s when she laughed. Her Mom and Dad looked at each other laughed nervously. ?I?m just kidding.? She said with a wry smirk. What a relief, and by the way, who raised such a smart aleck kid?
OK, OK, let?s get to work and see what?s happened in this fair hamlet.
As most of you are aware, there was a serious accident between two large commercial vehicles on Highway 29, nine kilometers north of town. The accident occurred on March 8, 2007 in the morning. A southbound water truck collided with a northbound semi pulling a trailer. The water truck driver was attempting to overtake another vehicle, and began to pull out to do so. At this point the driver saw the oncoming tractor trailer unit, and began to pull back in behind the vehicle. While slowing down, the water truck driver lost control and began to slide sideways down the highway. The semi struck the back wheels of the water truck, tearing the rear axil off. The driver of the semi sustained serious injuries, and was sent to the trauma unit in Grande Prairie. The scene was investigated with the assistance of South Peace Traffic Services. At the time of writing this news release, the accident is still under investigation.
I want to take a moment to quell some rumors. Both of the commercial vehicles were not locally owned. No one died, and no one is in jail. Alcohol and drugs were not a factor in the accident. When there is an information vacuum, it seems that this vacuum is filled rather quickly. Remember, nature abhors a vacuum, and so do the police (and, apparently, so does my youngest daughter.)
In addition to this accident, there were four other accidents reported to the police this week. Weather has been a contributing factor in all of these mishaps. There are a couple of things that I would like to bring to your attention regarding driving in the spring. Lesson one: It is going to be slippery, period. It has been slippery since creation, and it will continue to be so. Lesson two: You are responsible for the care and control of your vehicle at all times, period. Excuses such as ?the roads were icy,? or ?The devil made me do it,? will not fly here or with ICBC. Lesson three: There are very few ?real? motor vehicle accidents. An accident is when a meteor or a jet engine falls from the sky and wipes out your car. That?s an accident. Going too fast and crashing is not an accident. Unsafe passing is not an accident. Drinking way too much coffee and not stopping in time is not an accident. It?s your fault, and the funny thing is, we all know it.
Let?s talk about what?s been happening lately. We have been experiencing a freeze-thaw-freeze cycle lately. The snow melts during the day, and the subsequent water freezes during the night. Usually throughout the night, it snows and the new snow covers the ice. When vehicles travel down the highway in the morning, they are traveling on some very slippery roads. So what is a person to do? Here are a few tips that work really well. Make sure you slow down on hills and corners.
If you noticed, these are the areas where the highway contractors constantly put down sand and salt. Do all of your accelerating and braking on the straight stretches. Enter the curve slowly and once you have exited the curve, go ahead and gain some speed. Remember, it?s always easier to gain speed than it is to loose speed.
From a defensive driving point of view, please don?t follow too close to a vehicle in front of you. When there is light snow on the road and you travel close behind, your vehicle gets lost in the ?blizzard.? What makes this dangerous is when you meet an oncoming vehicle. They are prepared for the first vehicle, however the second vehicle is usually a total surprise. Allow lots of space so that you can see and be seen. Don?t forget to keep your winter tires on for another month or so. At this time of year, they are worth their weight in gold.
Lastly, if you can, try and travel during the daylight hours. Your chances of bare and dry roads are much better. Another area that can reach out and bite you are the areas where the road surface is shaded by trees. These shaded areas take longer to thaw, and as such, are usually much more slippery than the sun-bathed sections of the road. Be careful using your cruise control at this time of year. If you hit black ice, your cruise control can easily start your wheels spinning and in a heartbeat, you too can be going sideways down the road.
Well, that?s about all for now. We?ll talk again next week the good Lord willing.
Keep it between the ditches.
Cpl. Kurt Peats