Calgary road conditions remain treacherous

It has been a nightmare getting around Calgary this week as slick roads translated into commuter chaos.

Driving too fast for conditions and not giving enough space common causes of accidents, says expert

There have been many accidents around the city today because of icy road conditions, like this crash on Deerfoot Trail. (CBC)

It has been a nightmare getting around Calgary this week as slick roads translated into commuter chaos.

There was a crash on southbound Deerfoot Trail at Memorial Drive around 2 p.m. MT that involved a semi-trailer, two SUVs and a car. One person was taken to hospital as a precaution.

There was also a multi-vehicle crash this afternoon on eastbound Glenmore Trail before the Crowchild Trail exit that caused some major delays.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says his office is getting an earful from angry drivers because of the condition of city roads.

He says crews are doing their best, but because the snow keeps falling they can't keep up with the demand.  

"It has been miserable and this was bad news because remember what makes it a blizzard is the wind, not the snow, so the wind has been really awful," said Nenshi. "The crews have been out there 24/7 for — today's Tuesday? — nine days now but it keeps snowing."

He says the falling snow means crews can't get to many side streets because they have to keep plowing and re-plowing priority roads and bus routes.

Police say there were nearly 191 collisions on Calgary roads before 4 p.m. MT — seven of them involved injuries.

But it's not just Calgary, as residents across southern Alberta are struggling with poor driving conditions.

Four children and the driver needed medical treatment and a teenager was sent to hospital with minor injuries following a school bus rollover near Priddis, Alta.

It happened around 8 a.m. on Coalmine Road. The bus driver had apparently pulled to the side of the road to allow another vehicle to pass when the bus rolled into the steep ditch.

RCMP say blowing snow and ice also contributed to the accident.

Bad roads or bad drivers?

But Calgary bike courier Alex Munro says it's not always the roads but drivers that are creating problems.

Calgary bike courier Alex Munro believes some Calgary drivers don't realize the danger of following too closely. (Nadia Stewart/CBC)

Munro says in these conditions the real danger comes from drivers behind her who follow too closely. She said they do not realize how quickly a cyclist can fall if they skid or lose their balance.

"People not shoulder checking and just not being aware. 'Oh! I can see blank pavement and I have winter tires I can go 60' — like, no you frickin' can't," she said. "You really have to make sure you can stop."

Ron Wilson, manager of driver education for the Alberta Motor Association, says driving too fast or too close to other vehicles leads to accidents.

"So by backing off the speed a little bit, you're getting better traction. Not only that, but it can take you up to 12 times as long to stop the vehicle on a slippery road like this, so you want to increase that following distance."

Wilson says rear-end collisions are the most common vehicle accident in Alberta all year round.

Lacey Elliott, a spokesperson for, says there are four features to look out for when buying a car that can handle winter in Alberta: reliability, traction control, an anti-lock brake system and all-wheel or four-wheel drive.

"When we're talking about a good vehicle for winter, something that I don't think people actually think about is overall reliability."

For example, Elliott says a car like the Honda Civic has a proven history of being reliable despite being front-wheel drive.

"You know that if you're gonna be out in -30 C weather, hopefully you're not going to have to worry about something going wrong with the car because you have that reliability in the vehicle as well."

But Wilson warns drivers that even with the best safety features they still need to adjust for winter conditions.

"Maybe they think, 'I have a four-wheel drive vehicle or I have a vehicle with all the latest safety features, so now I can drive faster.' That really shouldn't be the case," he said.


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