Cold lessons to be learned

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If nothing else, our recent cold spell should prove a helpful warning for the next time we sink into a deep freeze.

The Bow Valley joined the rest of Canada in welcoming a frigid new year and, like municipalities across the country, citizens here fell into the trap of leaving vehicles idling and unlocked – a situation that prompted thieves to take advantage.

In an effort to not suffer any chilly moments in their vehicle, people insisted on idling to warm them up and several people, no doubt waiting inside their home or a business for the temperature to rise, provided a lift for those with criminal intent.

For those who would be vehicle thieves, what could be more inviting or enticing than a vehicle left running, with the door conveniently unlocked? It’s almost an invitation to steal.

We wonder if anybody is truly surprised when their vehicle is stolen. Possibly only afterward, while sitting in the RCMP detachment filling out forms, or in speaking with their jovial insurance agent while explaining the idling/unlocked scenario, or while booking garage or body shop time when a damaged vehicle is returned …

At any rate, recent vehicle thefts should be a reminder that enduring a few minutes of chill might be better than leaving one’s vehicle to the whim of thieves.

Then there is the road situation, where the deep freeze, combined with snow and wind, made for very slippery road conditions – road conditions far too few drivers seen to properly take into account.

It’s almost comical to see the tires some drivers put their faith in. Tires that are clearly summer-only, or worn to nearly bald, remain on many vehicles. Apparently, the idea of changing to winter or all-weather tires has eluded many. Or, despite many, many reports on the unsuitability of all-season tires, many continue on driving on them through the winter months.

At best, all-season tires are only suitable over three seasons, generally not for winter driving, in particular in our mountains.

Then there are those who, buoyed by the knowledge they drive a vehicle blessed with an all wheel drive system of some sort, and full of overconfidence, refuse to drive to the road conditions. These are the drivers who refuse to ease up on the accelerator pedal, no matter the road conditions.

Again, we wonder when it strikes these drivers that maybe, just maybe, they overdrove the conditions. Is it during those first few seconds, as tires lose their grip on the road surface? Is it as they leave said road surface, with ditch/rocks/oncoming traffic in their sights? Is it during the first roll, when tires bite into something other than the slick road surface and the roof becomes a sliding surface?

RCMP constantly remind drivers to drive within their skill level, to slow down, to drive to the road conditions (even if you’re a few minutes later getting to your destination) and their suggestions should be heeded.

In the end, what difference does a few minutes make, as opposed to a crash that could seriously damage a vehicle, or worse, those inside?

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Rocky Mountain Outlook