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Edmonton motorists caught off-guard by first snowfall now scrambling to get prepared

October snow spurs havoc on Edmonton roads
WATCH ABOVE: Edmontonians are no strangers to snow and yet thousands of drivers were caught off guard by the first snowfall of the season. Sarah Kraus reports on how the early blast of winter has impacted city roads.

Edmonton’s first snowfall of the season came with an urgent reminder to prepare for winter driving conditions.

According to the Edmonton Police Service, officers were called to respond to dozens of collisions between Friday evening and Saturday evening.

Between 6 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday, EPS said 12 hit and runs were reported along with seven crashes involving injuries and 58 crashes in which property was damaged.

 

“Motorists are advised to drive for the road conditions, instead of the speed limit,” police said in a release Saturday. “Pedestrians are encouraged to be mindful that vehicles may take longer to come to a stop in snowy and/or icy conditions, and to wait until all vehicles have come to a full stop before crossing a roadway.”

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The wet snow began falling during the supper hour Friday and continued through the night. The snow combined with freezing temperatures created slick driving conditions on many area roadways.

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Slick conditions on area roadways caused a number of collisions Friday.
Slick conditions on area roadways caused a number of collisions Friday. Global News

Now, unprepared drivers are scrambling to get their vehicles ready for winter conditions.

“We’ve had about six people on hold on the phones all day. We’re actually calling in more staff so we can accommodate everybody,”  Donavan Paton, assistant manager at Edmonton’s southside Kal Tire location, said.

That rush is for winter tires. The 99 street Kal Tire is completely booked into November and has extended its hours to help out last minute drivers.

“There’s always the people that are proactive so we have been booked up for the full month already and then there’s other people trying to call in and get in last minute,” Paton said.

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If you don’t have an appointment booked, Paton suggests drivers drop their car off before 9 a.m. at any location. “We’ll get it done before the end of the day, we just can’t promise a time.”

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Ronald Dawson is one of the lucky ones. He managed to book his vehicle in for a winter tire swap over on Saturday.

“It’s for safety,” Dawson said.  “I want brand new winter tires to start the winter.”

“You’re crazy if you don’t have winter tires, it’s Canada, it’s the wintertime, if you want to be safe, if you’ve got kids and a family, I would never even consider anything else,” he added.

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“The way the tread compound is made- it stays softer in the winter time so it’s going to grip on the road better,” Paton said. “You can also get studded tires which grip on the ice and snow. Summer tires are going to have less tread, less thickness to grip into that snow and ice,” he added.

Dawson is driving to B.C. this weekend and wouldn’t think of leaving without winter tires on his vehicle.

“Cornering is very important, when you lose it, coming around a corner and there’s a big truck coming – you want to be holding onto the road you don’t want to be slipping and sliding.” he said.

Edmonton motorists are lining up to get winter tires.
Edmonton motorists are lining up to get winter tires. Global News

RCMP are also reminding drivers traveling over the Thanksgiving weekend to take their time with snowy road conditions expected to continue throughout the weekend.

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“What we’re seeing throughout the province are winter driving conditions with slippery, icy roads,” Sgt. Shawn French with the RCMP said.

With more snow in the forecast, up to four centimeters by Sunday, road conditions are expected to deteriorate.

“People need to slow down, leave extra space in between themselves and other vehicles and leave yourself plenty of time to get to your destination -rushing is going to cause more problems than it’s worth”

READ MORE: October snowfall slows Calgary traffic, grounds STARS Air Ambulance

Poor driving conditions are to blame for at least one death near Calgary Friday.

Emergency crews said one driver, a man in his 80s, was killed in a single-vehicle accident near Priddis, Alta. at Highway 22 and Coalmine Road.

Calgary police reported a total of 78 collisions between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Friday.