WASAGAMING — The majority of trips in Riding Mountain National Park, whether on the roads or on the trails, are a scenic adventure in a winter wonderland.
However, on very rare occasions the serenity of winter can suddenly change and Parks Canada recognizes that visitors have a certain responsibility for their own safety, and that risk management must become an integral part of their experience.
With the unpredictability of winter driving conditions in Manitoba, RMNP advises motorists to exercise caution while driving through the park and to be especially aware of wildlife on the road.
There are a number of precautions motorists can take to greatly reduce their chances of a wildlife collision:
• Scan both sides of the road ahead as far as possible, especially when you are in an area marked by signs to indicate that wildlife is frequently observed in the area.
• Don’t let yourself be distracted. A driver who is alone and concentrating on the road is less likely to strike an animal than a driver whose attention wanders while talking to a passenger or on the phone.
• Keep your windshield and headlights clean.
• Drive with your headlights on high beam unless approaching or overtaking other traffic and remember to wear your seatbelts.
The 80 km/h per hour speed limit through the park was put in place for visitor safety reasons. Through the park, the highway curves and can be challenging in icy conditions. If drivers slow down, both they and the wildlife will be safer. Pay attention to the posted road signs and adjust your speed to match the road condition, in certain conditions driving below the posted speed limit may be warranted.
Also, motorists should be aware that some finishing work remains at Kilometre 49 and will not be completed until the spring of 2013. Pylons and other identifiers will remain in place throughout the winter advising motorists of vacated construction areas.
For updates on road conditions, call Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation toll free at 1-877-627-6237 or visit: manitoba.ca/mit/roadinfo/index.html
If you decide to venture from your vehicle and experience one of the many trails in RMNP this winter, please be aware that between now and April 30, emergency services may be unavailable, limited or significantly delayed so preparation before you go out is imperative.
Having a proper trip plan will make your winter experience more enjoyable and alleviate concerns involved with winter outdoor winter adventures.
While some visitors recognize the risks involved in outdoor recreation and are prepared for their adventures, many others don’t know what they’re getting into. That means they’re unable to choose effectively between taking a smart risk and a foolhardy one.
The rising popularity of adventure travel and outdoor pursuits makes it particularly important to ensure that visitors take responsibility for their own safety.
Parks Canada asks that you share the responsibility for your visit to protected heritage areas to help ensure a safe, enjoyable and memorable visit. You are responsible for your safety.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 8, 2013