‘Always be aware’: Treacherous conditions on Perimeter Highway lead to multiple crashes

Five crashes early Thursday morning slowed drivers down on the Perimeter Highway – and kept emergency crews busy.

Sgt. Cathy Farrell with Manitoba RCMP’s traffic division told CTV News that not all drivers were driving to the conditions of the slippery road.

“The crews haven’t had a chance to get out on the road, and although it wasn’t all that cold, the wind had picked up and it made conditions slippery,” Farrell said.

RCMP Manitoba says it hopes to provide more information Friday on the serious injuries that resulted from the crashes.

It says there were three crashes on Highway 1 between the Perimeter and the Headingley Correctional Center – and one on Highway 15 near the Perimeter.

RCMP said there were also a number of other crashes throughout southern Manitoba as well.

Farrell says drivers were not slowing down for the crashes.

“This morning at a collision on the Perimeter, an emergency vehicle was hit while it was assisting.”

That vehicle was a volunteer firetruck with the RM of Rosser.

The province said in a statement it “had plow trucks clearing snow and applying salt throughout the early morning, as soon as it was safe to do so.”

Coun. Janice Lukes tells her Waverley West ward residents “the Perimeter is a very, very treacherous stretch of highway to drive on and to avoid it if possible.”

The highway is under provincial regulation – and Lukes wants to speak to the province about some changes.

“If there isn’t 24-hour service and if there’s not enough trucks to clean it in the 12 hours they have, or staff, which is come to our attention, I hope that they consider reducing the speed.”

The province says it is making good progress filling staff vacancies – hiring 40 casual retired maintenance staff as it recruits permanent workers.

So far in November, 29 people on the Perimeter Highway called CAA Manitoba for a rescue.

Last November, there were 79 calls for the whole month, CAA Communications Manager Elisha Dacey said.

“I am hopeful that people are being a little bit safer on the Perimeter Highway but I honestly think it’s just due to the weather so far has mostly been cooperating,” she said.

Dacey and Farrell are both asking drivers to drive to the conditions and to use winter tires.

“I don’t know what to expect on the Perimeter Highway,” Farrell said. “The wind, the wind, the weather, the snow combined, it all depends on which side of the perimeter you’re on and how cold it gets. But just always be aware.”

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