With shoppers bustling from place to place, fluctuating temperatures thawing and freezing the roads and the ever-present risk of wildlife on the roadway, December is one of the months where first responders see more traffic accidents.
Parkland Ambulance responded to three such incidents over the weekend.
Among the 109 calls the paramedics received, they attended to a trio of collisions with drivers and passengers taken to the hospital.
The first, at 11:30 p.m. Friday night, included a single-vehicle collision at Highway 2 and North Side. A 26-year-old woman with serious injuries was taken to the hospital and later transferred to Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon in serious but stable collision.
Then, at 3:30 in the morning, paramedics arrived at a two-vehicle collision at 12th Street and Second Avenue West. Paramedics cared for a 24-year-old woman with injuries and took her to the Victoria Hospital in good condition.
Friday evening at 6 p.m., Parkland Ambulance and Buckland Fire Rescue responded to a vehicle vs. moose collision on Highway 55, 10 km west of the city near the satellite station. A 52-year-old woman was taken to hospital in good condition.
Incidents like these are, unfortunately, common for this time of year.
“We always see more people out on the streets, whether they’re travelling to visit family or out trying to get their shopping done, or in town visiting family,” said Lyle Karasiuk of Parkland Ambulance.
“This time of year there are more vehicles, more traffic, more people out there and you are likely going to see more collisions.”
While extra traffic alone leads to an increase in mistakes and more collisions, additional factors in December make roads more treacherous.
One factor is road conditions. Especially this year, with the mild winter seen so far, freezing and thawing can lead to icy conditions. There is also the risk factor of people going out to party, having too much to drink and then attempting to drive home.
Wildlife is also active in the late fall and early winter. With darkness coming sooner, it can be harder to spot four-legged hazards by the side of the road.
If it’s not enough that there is more traffic, those who are out can be stressed and hurried.
“It’s the last minute list. We’re in a hurry,” Karasiuk said.
“At the stores in the city, the parking lots are crammed with people. People are in a rush so they may be following too close or might take a yellow light rather than yield and wait. On the slippery sections that might exist, all those things can lead to more collisions.”
The other risk is pedestrians. Shoppers in a rush may not cross at the corner. They could dart from behind a parked car or be carrying something that obstructs their vision.
“That could be a recipe for a pedestrian versus vehicle collision,” Karasiuk said.
“Especially in our downtown core.”