Tall snowbanks are a dangerous sightline obstacle for drivers
Snowbanks piled up in the curb don’t just cause parking problems, but prevent drivers from seeing oncoming traffic until it is right on top of them.
By now, it should be clear that this winter is a return to the good ‘ol days, when snow and temperatures well below freezing were the rule, rather than the exception, as has been the case for the past 10 years or so.
Even if we got a 10 or 15 centimetre snowfall, a rare occurence in recent years, we could count on a thaw shortly after, to melt the snow.
But not this winter. Aside from the Saturday snowfall that caused traffic chaos around the GTA, the forecast calls for at least another 10 centimetres on Tuesday.
The snowbanks are here to stay for at least a few more weeks, along with the problems caused when they occupy curbside space where drivers usually park.
I learned the hard way that snowbanks not only cause parking problems but can hide oncoming traffic, sometimes until it’s too late.
I was turning from westbound Kingston Rd. onto northbound Morningside Ave. the other day, where a small right-turn lane allows drivers to make their turn without stopping at the traffic lights.
A substantial snowbank has been piled up in the space between the turn lane and the sidewalk, which is tall enough to obscure northbound traffic on Morningside from drivers waiting to turn from Kingston Rd.
I couldn’t see the traffic coming my way because of the big snowbank, so I tried edging out, a few inches at a time, while straining to get a better look.
It’s a good thing I was so cautious. A driver in the curb lane who was rushing through on a yellow light nearly tore off the front of my car. Only a combination of him swerving and me moving slowly prevented a collision.
It was a timely reminder that drivers need to adjust for the sightline obstacle created by snowbanks, and also assume that the other guy doesn’t see you.
I’ve had several complaints about snow piled up around a corner at an intersection that kept drivers from seeing oncoming traffic. But only after I had a close call did I understand how serious the problem is.
So watch out, and remember that if you can’t see the other guy, he probably can’t see you.