Be careful out there

Winter Roads Need To Be Treated With Caution

When we lived in Canmore, I was always surprised at how many accidents occurred in Calgary during the first snow day. It would typically number in the hundreds.

I was surprised because Canada has well defined seasons and (global climate change aside) each is pretty predictable.

My grandmother would visit from the U.K. and sit in our dining room for hours. The mountains sure were beautiful, but when we questioned what she was looking at, she mentioned the number of cars spinning off the highway.

It was odd because it was a straight section of highway. As we joined her, we realized she was correct. Cars would be heading along a straight section of the highway and then suddenly spin off in to the ditch.

Frankly, there is no reason for this.

Tire technology is such that we can select tires that make sense. My friends over at Big O Tires can tell you that there are tires available for all kinds of weather. The challenge is that there is not a tire suitable for many types of weather.

Last night, my wife came close to losing her life in a head-on car accident on a mountain pass close to us.

She had (thankfully) a safe car and a new set of winter tires. Regardless of what the government suggests, the only tires you should drive on in winter in mountain passes are winter tires.

Forget all weather, all seasons with snowflakes. They don’t add up to much when you really need them.

She was heading uphill on her side of the road about 50 feet away from a blind left hand corner. I was about 500 metres ahead and a Toyota SUV passed me with the driver looking decidedly insecure judging by his line on the road and his driving posture. 

The good news, so I thought, was that he was driving slowly. I continued, assuming nothing of it. I could see some headlights behind me in the distance and carried on cautiously checking my rear-view mirror. After passing a lake and rounding a corner, no more than a minute later, I realized Jackie was not following.

I turned around looking for tracks of a car going over the edge and down a ravine.

As I approached the blind left hand corner that I referenced, a person was madly waving a flashlight. My heart sank when I realized it wasn’t Jackie.

All those bad thoughts came into my head, including she had driven off down a ravine.

The guy explained there had been a head on collision and a lady was in one of the cars.

“Yes, that is my wife,” I said and he quickly replied that she was OK.

As I approached, it was clear that the Toyota had no chance of making the corner. The tire tracks indicated a big slide even before the apex and a subsequent head on in Jackie’s lane. All airbags had deployed and a quick first aid check revealed no serious injuries. 

With no cell service in the area and no repeater for my Search and Rescue radio to alert anyone, we drove down the pass and made a 911 call as soon as possible.

While waiting for the police, I got to know the driver and passenger in the other truck. They were incredibly apologetic and admitted that they had lost control in the corner and hit Jackie in her lane.

I looked at their tires — below legal all terrain tires that were completely inappropriate for the mountain pass on that day.

The unfortunate thing is that they were from California and probably had no idea that they were supposed to have winter rated tires for mountain passes here.

So here are my take aways.

  • Don’t forget to let people know you love them. You never know when something like this could happen
  • Get winter tires on your car; there is still plenty of winter left.
  • Do an advanced driving course. Several hundred bucks will likely save your life.
  • Drive defensively. Thankfully, because both drivers were going slowly in the conditions, everybody walked away even though the photo looks ugly.
  • If you have guests in from out of town in the winter, or you meet someone from out of town, explain how we approach winter driving and don’t let them go over a mountain pass without the right tires.
  • If you are travelling in bad weather in a high pass, convoy with another vehicle or worse case scenario let someone know when you expect to be home. Without me there, everyone would have waited for four hours for a snowplow to pass. If someone is critically injured, that is the wrong amount of time to be waiting for help.

That way you might end up saving their life with a simple conversation. 

Stay safe.


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About the Author

Mark has been an entrepreneur for over forty years. His experience spans many commercial sectors and aspects of business. He was one of the youngest people to be appointed as a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Sales and Marketing Management before he left the UK in 1988.

His column focuses on ways we can improve on success in our lives. Whether it is business, relationships, or health, Mark has a well-rounded perspective on how to stay focused for growth and development.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an adventurer, philanthropist and keynote speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website www.markjenningsbates.com

He is a Venture Partner with www.DutchOracle.com a global Alternative Investment company.

Mark Jennings-Bates:
[email protected]

Photo credit: www.SteveAustin.ca 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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