It’s winter —be prepared

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Around the time this editorial was written, the forecast for the St. John’s area was for some eight centimetres of wet snow, followed by rain. Earlier in the day, it had been as much as 15 centimetres. By the time you read this paper, much, if not all of it, may be gone. In fact, it might not have come at all.

But it will come, if not this week, then probably next.

And you don’t need to be a fortune-teller to know what that few centimetres of nasty will bring with it: cars, obeying the laws of physics instead of the wishes of their drivers, will fly off the Trans-Canada Highway and the Outer Ring Road. The lucky ones will land on their wheels and terrify their occupants. The unlucky ones will roll, and the situation will be more serious.

In downtown St. John’s, cars will slide sideways or backwards down hills, and the fire department radio will fairly crackle with the sound of trucks being dispatched to fender-benders and chain-reaction crashes.

Tire shops will be stuffed to the ceiling with those who, like every year, have waited too long, and later, the news will be full of pictures of crumpled cars, and the unlucky will be caught up in bodywork estimates and insurance company deductibles and rental cars, all the fun that comes with even the simplest of accidents.

In short, we will all behave as if we had never seen snow before, thinking that if we just ignore it, it will all go away — pretty much the way a large segment of the population treats their turn signals.

Here are the things you should be thinking about — please read this with your full attention.

• It’s valuable to have balanced, properly installed snow tires and a well-maintained vehicle, including winter wiper blades.

• Plan now to allow longer stopping distances, more space between you and the car in front of you, and, most of all, be prepared to drive at slower speeds.

• Allow yourself more time for travel between work and home, or, in fact, for all driving. Be ready to change your plans.

• Remove all snow and ice from the windows, hood, roof and trunk of your vehicle before driving. It may be fun to travel the streets driving the equivalent of a snow-cone, but the restricted visibility is a danger to you and others.

• Be mindful and patient with pedestrians. Often, they have no other place to walk and no other options to get where they are going.

• Have reasonable emergency gear in your car — especially for highway travel — and be aware and mindful of pending weather conditions. Have a snow shovel in your car.

• Wear proper winter clothing, even if you plan to spend only minutes between your car door and the mall. Things have a way of changing — and if you don’t know that, you took a wrong turn somewhere and are now in the wrong province.

We can get through this. Most of us get through it safely every year.

The ones who won’t? Well, it’s early winter. You’ll hear more about them in the next few days.

Organizations: Trans-Canada Highway

Geographic location: Outer Ring Road

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