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Winter Driving Tips

Winter driving can sometimes be a daunting task, especially when conditions are snowy or icy. If road conditions are dangerous, consider making alternate travel arrangements or postponing your trip until conditions improve.

Follow these steps to keep yourself safe and collision free during the next few blustery winter months.

Step 1: Make sure that your vehicle is prepared for winter driving.
  • Winter tires are a good option, as they will provide greater traction under snowy or icy conditions.

  • Keep a snow brush/scraper in your car, along with possible emergency items such as a lightweight shovel, battery jumper cables, and a flashlight.

  • Make sure that mirrors, all windows, and the top of your vehicle, are free of snow or frost before getting onto the road.

Step 2: Drive smoothly and slowly
  • Don’t make any abrupt turns or stops when driving. Doing so will often cause your vehicle to lose control and skid.

  • Driving too quickly is the main cause of winter collisions. Be sure to drive slowly and carefully on snow and ice covered roads.

Step 3: Don’t tailgate.
  • Tailgating becomes much worse in winter weather. Stopping takes much longer on snowy and icy roads than on dry pavement, so be sure to leave enough room between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

Step 4: Brake before making turns.
  • Brake slowly to reduce speed before entering turns. Once you have rounded the corner you can accelerate again.

Step 5: Learn how to control skids.
  • When skidding, you actually need to go against your natural instincts and turn into the skid and accelerate. Doing so transfers your vehicle’s weight from the front to the rear and often helps vehicles to regain control.

Step 6: Lights On.
  • Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.

Step 7: No Cruise Control.
  • Never use cruise control if conditions are snowy, icy, or wet, because if your car hydroplanes, your car will try to accelerate and you may lose control of your vehicle.

Step 8: Don’t “pump” the brakes.
  • If your vehicle is equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS), do not “pump” the brakes. Apply constant pressure and let the system do its work.

Step 9: Pay attention.
  • Manoeuvres are more difficult to make in the snow. Be sure to anticipate what your next move is going to be to give yourself lots of room for turns and stopping.

Alberta NEW Rules for Impaired

Zero tolerance program

Drivers under the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program found to have any amount of cannabis or illegal drugs in their blood are now subject to the same provincial sanctions that apply to alcohol, including:

  • immediate 30-day licence suspension

  • immediate 7-day vehicle seizure

  • must remain in GDL program for 2 years and have no suspensions in the last year to graduate from the program

GDL drivers who meet the requirements for criminal level impaired driving will be subject to any and all provincial sanctions and criminal penalties that apply.

Licence suspension program

All drivers who are reasonably believed to be criminally impaired, who fail or refuse to provide a fluid sample, or are found to be over the legal limits for alcohol, cannabis or cannabis/alcohol combination, will be subject to the following sanctions:

  • immediate 90-day licence suspension

  • immediate 3-day vehicle seizure (7 day for a second and subsequent occurrence)

  • one-year participation in a provincial ignition interlock program

Drivers who do not participate in the ignition interlock program will remain suspended for the year.

These sanctions are in addition to criminal charges and any and all penalties imposed by the court. There are no changes to the post-conviction requirements.

Blood-drug concentration limits

Alberta’s alcohol- and drug-impaired driving offences and sanctions have been updated to align with new federal drug laws, which came into effect on June 21, 2018.

Changes include:

  • new drug-impaired driving offences with specified blood-drug concentration (BDC) limits for several illicit drugs and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main mind-altering ingredient found in cannabis

  • updated criminal penalties for impaired driving

Drug-impaired driving has been a criminal offence for decades. What’s new are the blood-drug concentration limits for cannabis and cannabis/alcohol combination.

These limits are similar to the existing .08 percent blood alcohol concentration for criminal-level alcohol-impaired driving. If you are found driving over the criminal limits, you are considered impaired behind the wheel.

Table 1: New blood-drug concentration limits

Blood concentration level Federal criminal penalty *

2 nanograms (ng) per millilitre (ml)
but less than 5 ng/ml THC Maximum $1,000 fine (summary conviction)

5 ng/ml or more THC **

OR

2.5 ng/ml or more THC combined
with 50 mg/100ml or more alcohol

1st offence: Minimum $1,000 fine

2nd offence: Mandatory 30 days imprisonment

3rd offence: Mandatory 120 days imprisonment

* Penalties are more serious for drivers who have high levels of impairment or who injure or kill others while driving impaired, and those who are repeat offenders.

** This section also includes penalties for exceeding any blood drug concentration as established in federal regulations. THC is the only drug with established time limits at this time. Limits for illegal drugs may follow.

Survivor in crash that killed 2 Alberta teens recalls ‘blowing a stop sign’ at trial

A man accused in a Canada Day crash in central Alberta that killed two teenagers and severely injured two others has pleaded not guilty.

Dylan James Beauclair, who is 21, is charged with two counts of dangerous driving causing death and two more of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

His trial began Thursday in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench before a judge alone.

Ashleigh Smith, who was 16 and from Springbrook, Alta., and 18-year-old John Dolliver from Penhold, Alta., died on July 1, 2016, in a late-night single-vehicle accident east of Red Deer.

Mounties said at the time that two occupants were ejected from the vehicle and died on the scene, while two others were injured and taken to hospital.

A fifth occupant who was not ejected was also taken to hospital but was released a short time later.

  • After 13 deaths in July, RCMP warn drivers to be careful over long weekend

The first witness called by the Crown was one of the people in the car the night of the crash.

Lexie Martin testified that the group planned to attend the Canada Day fireworks in nearby Sylvan Lake before attending a party back in Red Deer.

But it started to rain, Martin recalled, so they decided to go straight to the party.

Shaylene Taberner, who was Beauclair’s girlfriend and now lives with him, testified she was supposed to be the designated driver that evening. But she and Beauclair got into a “huge fight” after her father called her and told her to come home. She said he was upset that she was out with Beauclair.

The group suggested Beauclair take the wheel, Taberner testified, but she couldn’t recall much more than that.

“I faintly remember blowing a stop sign. Then I remember waking up and a nice lady was holding my hand,” she told court.