Firstly, I would like to address a concern that has recently been discussed in the media regarding the mandatory use of winter rated tires in the Province.
Alberta is a Province where winter arrives in late October. This brings variable road conditions that the various jurisdictions attempt to ameliorate through the use of a variety of physical and chemical means. Albertans have grown to expect a “black road” policy where the pavement is cleared and all ice and snow have been removed.
Our sister Province to the west has a somewhat different approach allowing for a build up of compact snow on the highways. Loose snow is removed, and sand is applied to corners for traction. BC has also implemented a policy requiring the use of winter rated tires through most of the Province. The drivers have learned to use these roads in this condition.
Our Sister Province to the east uses a program of snow removal that I have “jokingly” referred to as “July”, meaning that highway maintenance is minimal at best. No tire requirements are in place there.
To my knowledge, there are no plans for a mandatory winter tire requirement in Alberta. I would propose that such a requirement be brought into effect. This would allow for better control of vehicles on our streets and highways. Better control can result in lower medical and crash costs for our Citizens. Failing the Province wide implementation of this type of requirement, there should be a requirement that ALL rental vehicles be equipped with winter tires between November 1st and April 30th. Considering that many rental vehicles are used by people from outside the area, this will help to give a safer road to drivers inexperienced with our winter weather.
My second point falls within this same winter road condition situation.The majority of Provinces to the east of Alberta have changed the warning lights on their snow removal equipment. Previously, this equipment was indicated by the use of amber flashing lights in various configurations. Provinces to the east have changed this marking to include both amber and blue flashing lights. This helps to differentiate different emergency vehicles that can be found on the roadways. School buses have a white strobe light, Police vehicles have red and blue lights, and ambulances have red and white lights. All these light configurations help to identify the vehicle that may be operating in the vicinity of the motoring public, giving an alert driver a better chance to react appropriately.
Pat Cuthbert – Infrastructure and Transportation