May 16, 2006

Young Drivers of Canada offers Top 10 Summer road safety tips

Toronto, Ontario – With Canada’s first holiday weekend of the Summer approaching, National Road Safety Week gears up May 16-22, 2006 to remind drivers across Canada to remember safety this Summer whenever they get behind the wheel. More Canadians die in vehicle crashes in the Summer than at any other time of the year. According to Transport Canada’s most recent statistics, there were more than twice as many serious collisions during the month of July as there were in February. To help Canadians stay safe and avoid being in a crash, Young Drivers of Canada is offering driving tips to prepare for the Summer road ahead.

  1. Preventive Maintenance – There are many reasons for breakdowns, but overheated cooling systems, burned transmissions and tire problems are the most common. A few simple inspections by either yourself, or a licensed technician, can reduce potential problems. For best fuel economy and handling, tire pressure should be maintained close to the maximum indication on the door pillar or glove box. As the temperature outside goes up and down, so does tire pressure. Checking it at least once a month, and before heading out on vacation, is a good idea.

  2. Objects Inside Your Vehicle – When packing your vehicle, ensure that loose objects are properly secured. If not properly secured, they may become projectiles, which could injure or kill if flying around your vehicle. As well, keep a safety kit in the trunk including a bottle of sunscreen, insect repellent, and factory sealed bottles of water.

  3. Plan Your Route – Plan your route ahead of time using an up-to-date map. Reading a map while driving is distracting so make a list of street/highway names where you need to turn. Know the name of the street prior to the one you want to turn onto. Listen to the traffic report before you leave to reach your cottage or summer destination. Anticipate how long your route will take and leave plenty of time to avoid stress. Never follow and never lead another driver to your destination. That poses as a distraction, so intend to meet them there instead.

  4. Travelling with Children – Ensure the children are properly buckled in their seats before starting your drive. Make certain that they have something to keep them occupied during your trip to avoid hearing “Are we there yet?” a million times. It is also a good idea to pull over every two hours to have the children stretch their legs and use the restroom.

  5. Merging Onto The Freeway – There are four steps to merging safely and easily onto the freeway. First, while in the merging lane accelerate to match the speed of traffic already on the freeway. Second, find a space. Third, signal and re-check mirrors and blind spot and make a lane change. Fourth, make a tiny adjustment in speed to secure space in front and behind your vehicle and get a good view ahead.

  6. Gravel Roads – Driving on a gravel road or any other loose surface is just as difficult as driving on snow. Some gravel roads become worn into a washboard like surface, which may cause your wheels to “skip” or dance sideways if you are driving too fast. On a gravel road, reduce speed and drive smoothly, just as you would on ice or snow.

  7. Following Distance – At city speeds, in good weather, the minimum safe following distance is 2 seconds and should be increased to 3 seconds on highways/freeways. The way to measure this is to choose a point of reference ahead such as a building or post. When the vehicle in front passes that point, begin to count – one thousand and one, one thousand and two, etc. Your vehicle should not pass your point of reference until you are finished counting. This gives you enough time to see, react and stop your vehicle safely.

  8. Changing Lanes – While changing lanes is a very simple task, it produces thousands of collisions each year. The problem is that we cannot see all the potential problems through our mirrors alone. The proper lane change steps are; check the inside mirror to locate a space, signal, side mirror on the way to checking the blind spot and then look ahead into your new lane before drifting over. A final inside mirror check once the change is completed will help ensure safe spacing behind you. Adjust your speed to match the flow of traffic as you change lanes.

  9. Drowsy Driving – Driving while you are tired is very dangerous. It reduces your ability to drive effectively. Your reaction time is slower, awareness is decreased, and judgment is impaired. Be sure you get enough sleep before you get behind the wheel. If you are travelling a long distance, stop at least every 2 hours to take a break.

  10. Driving At Night – most of us drive too fast without realizing the danger. On a dark highway, driving at the speed limit using low beams does not provide you with enough time to stop when your lane is blocked. Your low beams do not show you enough of the road to stop by the time you recognize the danger. For this reason, switch to high beams as soon as you are able. When you switch to low beams for approaching vehicles, switch them back to high beams just as the approaching vehicle is passing because this is the worst time to spot a problem.

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