Editorial — Chaos on the roads

The combination of rain and a freezing night proved to be a fatal one in Langley. Hopefully, there are lessons to learn from this.

No agency in charge of maintaining roads can get it right at all times, yet it seems that many of them in the Lower Mainland were caught unawares by wet roads and freezing conditions on Monday night.

The result was a chaotic situation on the roads in most areas early Tuesday, with the most tragic result in South Langley, where a 61-year-old man died on 240 Street when  his pickup truck slid into a ditch. Langley RCMP members who were called to the scene at about 6 a.m. said the road was so slippery they could barely stand on it.

As many maintenance outfits were ready in case snow fell over the long weekend, it is puzzling that the situation Monday night seemed to catch them by surprise. It’s not as if we don’t get rain here in the winter months, and there are times that the skies clear afterwards and the temperatures drop below freezing.

Yet there were hundreds of crashes on Tuesday morning, with a fair number of these in Langley.

Drivers must also accept their share of the blame. Too many people drive as if the roads are dry at all times. They do not slow down for rainy conditions, and even in snow, they rarely take the foot off the gas. Yet when temperatures are close to freezing, conditions can change significantly. They can be very different from one area to another, and change quickly. Caution should be the approach  that drivers apply in such situations.

Hopefully, Langley Township and Langley City, along with provincial road maintenance organizations, will look closely at Tuesday’s situation and learn some valuable lessons from it.

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