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‘Could be life or death’: Why drivers need to slow down in the winter

Winter weather has officially arrived in Manitoba and that means road conditions are icy, slippery and dangerous.

On Wednesday, the weather was a factor in a crash in Headingley involving a school bus and a semi. According to the RCMP, the bus was attempting to stop at the traffic light when it slid into the intersection and was hit by a semi-trailer. No one was physically injured in the crash.

Samantha Sommerfield, who works in community relations with Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI), said it can be difficult for drivers to transition to winter driving, adding that there is a yearly learning curve.

She said to stay safe, drivers should slow down and drive to the road conditions.

“Speed limits are meant for ideal road conditions, that’s a sunny day, great visibility, dry pavement especially,” she said in an interview with CTV Morning Live on Thursday.

“Anything outside of that, whether it is windy or a snowstorm [or there’s] ice on the road, those kinds of things, we need to slow down.”

Sommerfield explained that if a person is driving 60 km/h then their stopping distance is about 38 metres on dry asphalt. However, if it is icy, it increases to 119 metres.

She said that driving 10 kilometres slower reduces the stopping distance and the force of impact in a collision.

“As our speed increases those stopping distances increase,” she said.

“The thing with that is the greater the stopping distance, the greater the force of a collision and that could be life or death.”

Sommerfield noted that drivers also need to slow down their behaviour behind the wheel and add a bit of extra time to their commutes.

“We don’t want to bring that rushed energy to our driving commute,” she said.

“Give yourself more time in the morning so that you’re a little bit more Zen and calm behind the wheel.”

– With files from CTV’s Ainsley McPhail and Charles Lefebvre.

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