RCMP Sgt. Chantal Farrah said officers responded to 75 calls on Monday night from motorists who were involved in accidents, stranded on roads, and stuck in snow banks across the province, despite a travel ban on public roads.
“It was quite busy. The roads were treacherous there were a lot of advisories saying no travel, and those advisories really needed to be respected because what happened is that people were stranded,” Farrah said.
She said it’s concerning that people did venture out in reduced visibility conditions.
“You have to realize that when you’re at your house and you can’t see five feet in front of you, it’s even worse on the road, so please listen to the advisories,” Farrah said.
She said advisories are put out for the safety of New Brunswickers and to ensure the plows can get through and do their work, without cars becoming obstacles.
“When you venture out in such weather and you take a risk with your safety you have to really be prepared,” Farrah said. “Are you prepared to stay in your vehicle for possibly 10 or 12 hours?”
Emergency Measures Organization spokesperson Paul Bradley said people should closely monitor road conditions.
“We did get a lot of people in the previous storm … still going out and testing the roads and many people got into a bad situation,” Bradley said.
He said people who are stranded could be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning – a serious concern.
“If you’re on the road and you’re stuck and you want to sit in your car and run it, there is a risk that you could get exposed to carbon monoxide so you need to periodically get out and check to make sure that your exhaust [and] muffler is clear of any snow so that exhaust can get out and get away from your vehicle,” Bradley said.
CAA Atlantic marketing and communications vice president Gary Howard said people should adhere to the warnings issued.
“If the police and the province are saying stay home and stay off the roads, they’re saying stay home and stay off he roads for your own safety,” Howard said.
Howard said drivers should prepare their vehicles for snow storms by having snow tires, ensuring their cars are entirely cleared-off before leaving the driveway and always have at least a half-tank of gas.
Another thing people should pay attention to, Howard said, is speed when on the roads.
“Posted speed limits are for ideal driving conditions and in a winter storm you have to slow down and be aware of other vehicles around you,” Howard said.
He added people should also always keep an emergency kit in their vehicles in case they are stuck in a storm. He said emergency kits should consist of things like a first aid kit, cell phone, toques, thermal blankets, candy bars and road flares.
Farrah said if drivers do find themselves caught in whiteout conditions they should put on their four-ways so other drivers can see them and try to pull over to a safe location. She said drivers can call police to find out the closest and safest exit, and said in some cases they may be able to send a tow truck or direct snow plow to the area.
But she said the best plan is for people to stay home when a storm is underway.