EDITORIAL: Time to focus on seasonal safety

The sky isn’t falling, but there’s plenty falling from it these days.

Toppled trees that pulled down power lines over Highway 19 Tuesday morning (Oct. 17) led to a five-and-a-half-hour closure of the highway’s northbound lanes. The incident, which followed the first major rainfall of the season, thankfully resulted in no injuries or vehicle damage. But it does provide a stark reminder that it’s time for all of us to take a few extra precautions as we lurch into winter.

The rains are only going to keep coming, of course. Much of Vancouver Island has been under a rainfall warning this week, with one storm blowing through Wednesday and another expected Saturday. At the same time, the days grow shorter and darker.

The typical warnings to be hyper-aware of school-bound children apply for those commuting in the mornings and afternoons, and remember that Halloween is coming up, with its influx of after-dark foot traffic.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General has rolled out a provincewide Be Truck Aware campaign urging passenger vehicles and commercial trucks to share the road while following safe driving practices — and enforcing it with tickets for drivers of both cars and trucks who fail to do so.

Within the confines of individual vehicles, an emergency kit is always a good idea. At this time of year, it could become critical. Tuesday’s highway closure, near the Highway 19A exit south of Parksville, was in a favourable location for re-routing northbound traffic through Parksville, even if it was an inconvenience for motorists and local residents who suddenly had to navigate the glut of traffic.

That handy exit will not always be available as trees crash down and accidents block roads and highways.

From the risk of hydroplaning on Highway 19 between Nanaimo and Campbell River, to getting stuck on the Hump between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni, the risks will rise in the coming months.

Leave yourself some extra time for travel, provide plenty of stopping space between you and the traffic ahead and, if you’re expecting to travel highways requiring snow tires, get them on sooner than later — they’ve been required since Oct. 1.

Finally, grab or pack a basic emergency kit for the road. Even in non-life threatening situations, a blanket, light and water supply can make life a lot more comfortable.

— Parksville Qualicum Beach News

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