Slippery road conditions are cited as the cause of the collision in most of these incidents. Shawna Corley, associate manager for Nunavut Insurance's offices in Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet, noticed the increase. She would not share precise numbers because of confidentiality issues but said she looked at this winter and compared it with the last two years.
From Dec. 1, 2008 to Feb. 15, 2009, she said there were roughly double the number of car insurance claims when compared with 2007/08 or 2006/07.
Corley said the increase was specific to Iqaluit. Most of the claims concerned cars sliding through four-way intersections and "T-boning" other cars or rear-ending a stopped car at an intersection. In most such reports, slippery road conditions were blamed.
Corley said in all such cases the driver of the car would be considered "at fault" for insurance purposes because drivers should be aware of possibly slippery roads and modify their driving habits accordingly. That means driving more slowly and allowing more room to stop.
The city's chief bylaw enforcement officer Rod Mugford anticipates more winter traffic problems in the future. Paved roads in winter provide less traction than gravel and Iqaluit is paving more of its roads every year.
"Our roads are going to be a lot more treacherous," Mugford warned.
For years Iqaluit has helped drivers control their vehicles in winter by sanding roads. Sand helps tires grip the road, but when the road is paved the sand often blows away instead of sticking to a gravel surface. Mugford said motorists have to drive carefully and be aware of possible black ice on the paved road or collisions will become more common.
Additionally, every year there are more vehicles on the streets of Iqaluit, according to city administrator John Hussey.
According to the Department of Economic Development and Transportation there were 253 vehicles registered in Iqaluit in January 2008. In January 2009 there were 753.
Hussey defended the city's paving program, which he said improves driving conditions at other times of year. He said spring melt creates potholes which can damage a vehicle's suspension, undercarriage and alignment, not to mention the risk of a driver temporarily losing control, and which are expensive for the city to fix