Over 350 collisions in Ottawa in 3 days due to winter storm, freezing temperatures

Ottawa police are reporting that more than 350 motor-vehicle collisions have occurred in Ottawa between Sunday morning and Tuesday afternoon.

On Sunday alone, the day after a winter storm hit the capital dumping almost 30 cm of snow and dropping the temperature to under -30 with the windchill, the city saw 127 collisions.

The worst of the last three days was on Monday where 144 occurred, 121 of which happened during the morning commute hours.

While these numbers are high, according to Ottawa police spokesperson Const. Chuck Benoit, the numbers were only slightly higher than normal.

“As for the regular days, we can see approximately 50 collisions a day,” said Benoit. “We also find that on a bad weather day, the collision calls can triple, so Monday’s total is somewhat ‘normal’ for a heavy snow day.”

Unlike Quebec, Ontario has not legislated whether or not winter tires should be mandatory on vehicles and according to MTO, there are no plans to do so in the future.

“At this time, the ministry is not considering a mandatory winter tire law in any part of the province,” wrote MTO spokesperson Bob Nichols in an email. “Due to effective snow clearing operations and the fact that not all vehicles need to be operated every day under winter weather conditions, winter tire use remains at the discretion of Ontario’s vehicle owners.”

While it isn’t illegal to drive on all-season tires, Benoit says that Ottawa police do educate drivers on the benefits of winter tire use but will only lay charges if the tires are heavily worn.

Road salt also loses effectiveness when the ambient temperature is -13 C to -15 C.

Police and the province also encourage drivers to drive to the conditions — slow down and give plenty of space to stop.

“It is important to recognize that proper use of winter tires is only one aspect of safe winter driving,” wrote Nichols. “There are many other aspects that are important, including overall vehicle preparedness and defensive driving techniques. The ministry advises motorists to adjust their driving to the challenges that winter weather can bring.”

— More to come.

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