A four-vehicle pileup started a domino of collisions on Highway 2 that ended with a jackknifed semi trailer that blocked both northbound lanes near Red Deer on Wednesday afternoon.
Cpl. Troy Savinkoff with Alberta RCMP said initially, one lane was closed, but as traffic continued to back up and poor road conditions persisted, more vehicles collided.
“Fortunately, we were able to clear the area, including the jackknifed semi, fairly quickly. Even though road conditions remained poor, once the roads were cleared up there really wasn’t any reported large, additional interruptions to the highway,” Savinkoff said.
RCMP traffic units from Ponoka, Red Deer, and Blackfalds responded to the collisions which occurred in the areas of the Highway 11 and 11A overpasses. No serious injuries were reported at the time. Other collisions were also reported on other nearby highways.
While the conditions led to the collisions Wednesday, Thursday brought an extreme cold warning to Central Alberta and with it, a new set of challenges.
During a sustained cold snap just over a year ago, requests for battery boosts spiked 750 per cent, and the the Alberta Motor Association (AMA) is calling in additional service vehicle operators, dispatchers and contractors in case history repeat itself as temperatures plunge.
AMA driver education manager Ryan Lemont said once it reaches -15 to -20 C the number of roadside calls soar.
“We typically see a roadside call come in once every 40 seconds. Our calls for dead batteries can spike about six times the usual numbers. Caution and prevention are usually your best winter defences,” Lemont said.
He said plugging in for three to four hours before driving is enough to prevent a battery from dying.
Vehicle batteries only last three to five years in Alberta so drivers should also check when they installed their batteries, he added.
Other AMA tips for winter driving include:
• Consider switching to synthetic oil which will reduce engine wear and tear and help it turn over in frigid temperatures.
• Ensure the gas tank is at least half full, and consider using gas-line antifreeze if the vehicle frequently moves from warm to cold environments.
• Keep your vehicle windows and roof clear of snow and ice.
• Winter tires provide much better traction, and ensure tires are properly inflated.
• Scan the road ahead while driving and maintain a safe following distance that allows for adjustments.
• The posted speed limit refers to ideal conditions. Drive to the weather.
• Always carry an emergency roadside kit.
• Avoid unnecessary trips during extreme weather.
• When a tow truck is assisting a stranded driver, slow down to 60 km/h or lower depending on the posted speed limit, and move over a lane if possible.