Fallen foliage a danger

By Paul Moore

moore-traffic

There may not be any snow on the ground, but the City of Ottawa is urging drivers to be just as cautious right now as they would in the winter.

The city released a public service announcement this week warning motorists that the fallen leaves dotting the pavement in many Ottawa neighbourhoods are a traffic hazard.

“Motorists are advised to slow down and drive with caution as they would during icy road conditions when they see leaves on roadways,” the announcement reads.

Not all motorists are taking the warning seriously. Jeffrey Butler, the owner of a four-wheel drive Ford Explorer, said he thinks Ottawa’s leaf warnings are “overblown.”

“It’s not something most drivers would ever need to consciously think about,” Butler said as he leaned against his SUV, filling it with fuel at a local station. “You look at the leaves and you think, ‘Oh, that’s nice’ and you keep driving. It doesn’t seem that dangerous or really like it’s that big of a deal.”

Const. Alain Boucher with the Ottawa Police Service disagrees. He said drivers should be wary of the fallen foliage.

“I don’t recall any collisions [caused by leaves on the roadway],” he said. “But it is a possibility, especially if we have rainy conditions. The leaves start to deteriorate when traffic goes over them and then that could cause slippery conditions.”

Ottawa is not the first city to issue such a warning.

In Britain, the West-Midlands Police Authority recently released plans for increased efforts to boost officer safety. Among the awareness measures, the police force announced a poster campaign designed to warn officers of the dangers of inclement weather – including slippery leaves.

Andy Gilbert, head of the police federation in the area, reportedly called the warnings “patronising,” and said they stated “the bleeding obvious.”

“[No one] has ever come to me and said, ‘I have been injured because no-one told me it was going to rain’ or that ‘the sun would get in my eyes,’” Gilbert told Police Review, a publication about British policing issues.

The City of Ottawa’s PSA also reminds drivers to switch to their winter tires so they will be ready for slippery roads this winter.

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