Toronto, Ontario -- December 15, 2014 -- Motorists in the Greater Toronto Area were hit early Thursday morning with the first significant snowfall of the season, with the majority of the snowfall occurring during one of the worst possible times of the day: the morning commute.
Toronto police estimate that there was an average of one collision every three minutes across the city during the worst periods, with more than 200 collisions reported by 4 p.m. that day. A snowfall warning issued by Environment Canada early Thursday morning ended shortly before 6 p.m. as the snowfall tapered off.
That the first snowstorm of the year would cause a spike in road accidents is no surprise to those in the collision industry. They've seen it too many times before.
"Change is the hardest thing for people to deal with, even when they know it's coming. Winter is predictable, yet so many people get caught without snow tires or topped up fluids, and worse have lost their winter driving skills, says Lorenzo D'Alessandro, Owner of CSN - 427 Auto Collision. "Usually, the first bad winter storm day results in an increase of tow-ins by 10 to 15 percent, followed by an increase in estimates and people needing help about three working days later."
Mike Curci is the General Manager of Prochilo Brothers Auto Collision's Midwest Scarborough location. He has been in the collision industry for 25 years and notes that this something that happens frequently with the first major snowfall of the year.
"It doesn't surprise me in the least," says Curci. "People never seem to be prepared when the snow first hits."
Environment Canada reported that 17 centimetres of snow had fallen at Toronto Pearson International Airport By 8 p.m. on Thursday. Some of areas of the city received significantly more snow. The Riverdale neighbourhood may have been hit the hardest, which saw 24 centimetres on the ground before the snowfall ended.
No fatal collisions were reported, but some of the collisions stand out for other reasons. Two schoolbuses ran off the road near the intersection of Orton Park and Ellesmere around 8:30 a.m. Both buses managed to stay upright and no one was hurt. In addition, just two hours later a vehicle drove through the window of a Shoppers Drug Mart location in Etobicoke. The driver was not seriously injured and customers and staff in the store escaped relatively unscathed.