Despite the efforts of snowplow crews, Waterloo Regional Police reported a spike in minor accidents in some parts of the region, as drivers slipped and skidded on slush and snow-covered roads during the first real snowfalls of the season.
By Monday afternoon, police had reported 107 property damage and nine injury collisions in the previous 24 hours due to weather conditions, said Const. Graham Williamson of the OPP highway safety division.
“Pretty well close to 100 per cent of the collisions that have happened simply occurred because the drivers were travelling too fast for the conditions. Even though the weather is getting a lot better, the roads are still very slippery,” he said later in the week.
Region of Waterloo manager of transportation operations Ed Switenky echoed that statement, saying that despite the rise in accidents over the past week, the snow-clearing efforts in the region have been going quite well.
The normal operating hours at the township are from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., but superintendant of Woolwich public works, Barry Baldasaro says those hours get pushed to the limits during the winter because of the townships inability to hire extra staff.
“We have crews out there at 5 a.m. each day and they are clearing snow and salting for about 20 hours per day,” Switenky explained. “On some roads, blowing snow causes drifts which can make the roads especially icy and slippery, but we try to be there as much as possible to keep the ice from developing.”
The township has seven plows, as well as one backup truck and two graders that are fitted with ice-breaking blades for use on gravel roads. In each of the past 12 years, the region has erected about 13.5 kilometres of snow fencing along regional roads to prevent snow from drifting across the driving lanes. To keep the surfaces clear, crews use about 50,000 tons of salt each year.
Over the past week, the Western Region OPP responded to more than 540 collisions, and portions of several major roads, including highways 6, 7/8, 9, 21, 401 and 402 were closed at times due to treacherous conditions.
“We just want to remind drivers to slow down their driving now that the winter weather is here,” said Switenky. “It is winter. No matter what type of vehicle you are driving, the driving is going to be more difficult. Roads can ice quickly.”