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Deadly collisions in Ontario, winter weather a factor police say

Andrea Stockton, staff writer
January 5, 2012 — Two multi-vehicle collisions left seven teens dead on Tuesday. Police are reminding drivers of the dangers of winter driving.

Roads can become treacherous very quickly during the winter months
Roads can become treacherous very quickly during the winter months

On Tuesday, two separate multi-vehicles crashes, which occurred within four hours of each other, left seven teens between the age of 17 and 19 dead.

According to police, these fatal collisions in the Parry Sound and Sudbury areas were both related to the winter driving conditions at the time.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) say tragedies like this can serve as an important reminder for all motorists to adjust driving behaviour during the winter months.

“Conditions can change during the winter months rather suddenly and sometimes dramatically depending on where you are in the province,” says Sergeant Dave Woodford, Highway Safety Division with the OPP. “And you have to be prepared when driving to change your driving habits to those road conditions that you're faced with.”

Woodford adds that it's crucial to remain aware and alert as the seasons change.

Staying aware and alert can help reduce risks on the roads
Staying aware and alert can help reduce risks on the roads

The OPP is also asking for the help of parents to speak to their young drivers about the inherent dangers of winter driving and to lead by example.

“I think our parents are there to teach our younger children. I know I have a daughter and it's her first year driving and it's my responsibility to make sure she's aware of these conditions as a parent,” says Woodford.

Inexperience on the roads can lead to crashes or fatalities, so learning how to adjust to different conditions can help drivers avoid certain risks.

For example, “if you're on black ice the first thing most people do when they start a spinning motion is apply their brakes,” says Woodford.

“This is something we have to get through to people that you don't want to be applying your brakes because you're locking up all four of your tires and you're sliding to wherever. What we recommend is that you ease up on the accelerator, two hands on the steering wheel, look to where you want to go and steer out of it. Once you do get out of that fishtailing motion, gradually accelerate.”

According to Woodford ramps and overpasses are two areas that can be particularly dangerous.

“The roads can actually still be icy there because the sun hasn't hit those specific areas and they're not highly travelled as much as the normal part of the highway would be. So it's sort of deceiving.”

Before heading out, be sure to monitor watches and warnings and check the highway conditions.

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