(Saanich Police/Twitter)

Police continue to advise Vancouver Island drivers to avoid travel unless necessary

Saanich Police responded to 15 crashes Sunday

With flakes starting to arrive in the second major snowfall on eastern Vancouver Island in as many days, officials are advising drivers to stay off the roads.

“We are recommending that people don’t travel unless necessary,” said Cpl. Chris Manseau of Sidney/North Saanich RCMP.

“Many people aren’t familiar with snow driving, and over estimate their abilities (or their vehicles capabilities) and this could cause unnecessary calls for service. With the anticipated snowfall tonight, people need to remember that although right now they may be able to get to their destination, they may not be able to safely get back, and this too will cause more trouble than necessary.”

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He issued this appeal as the region continues to dig out from Sunday’s snowstorm, whose remnants includes countless abandoned vehicles up and down Highway 17 and other area roads.

Nanaimo RCMP posted on social media that most secondary roads are in bad shape, and “with more snow expected today, don’t drive if you’re not prepared.”

Sgt. Julie Fast of Saanich Police said owners of those abandoned vehicles need to move them as soon as possible, unless they are safely off the road or in permitted parking area. “And until such time as it is driven or towed off the roadway, drivers should leave their hazard lights on so it is as visible as possible,” she said.

Overall, Saanich police responded to 15 crashes yesterday, particularly around dinnertime, said Fast.

“Many were single vehicles that slid off the road, with some striking poles and signs,” she said, adding she is unsure whether they resulted in power outages. “Some injuries were reported but most were minor in nature.”

With another dump of snow expected, Fast echoes Manseau’s appeal to avoid any unnecessary travel. If drivers must travel, they should clear all snow off their vehicle, turn their lights on, leave lots of extra room, avoid sudden moves, accelerate and brake slowly, and most important, slow down.

“Pedestrians should stay well back from the curb and stay alert for vehicles that may be sliding or unable to stop in time,” she said. “We are out there watching for unsafe driving but really need people to heed the weather warnings and drive with care.”

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