177 entries categorized "Driving"

May is Motorcycle Safety Month: Let’s Watch Out for Each Other

Ah, the sounds of spring: birds singing… and engines revving. 

There is nothing like that feeling of hitting the open road in the springtime. Windows down and music playing, it’s a good time to be driving. I live on a main street, and at this time of year certain car owners gleefully make their presence known. After a long winter of being bundled up, and careful driving through wintery conditions, the temptation to “let her rip'' is hard to resist.

For Canadian motorcyclists, spring has a whole other significance. It’s when many of them get their bikes back out on the road.  I can only imagine how exhilarating that first ride of the season must be. For the rest of us motorists, it can be a bit of a surprise after not seeing them for months, and suddenly a motorcycle appears in our side or rear view mirror (is that a car with a burnt out headlight behind me?). It’s fitting then, that May is Motorcycle Safety Month in Canada and the US.

Motorcycle Safety Month - Watch Out for Each Other

Once again, this year’s campaign by the Motorcycle Confederation of Canada is to Watch Out for Each Other, encouraging motorists to be on the look out for motorcyclists, and motorcyclists to return the favour. That way, we can all stay safe! For motorists looking to do our part, here’s some tips to consider:

  • Check your mirrors and blind spots for motorcyclists, and be sure to signal before changing lanes.
  • Motorcyclists are entitled to a full lane, just like any other vehicle. Don’t crowd them or try to share a lane with them on the road or at intersections.
  • Motorcycles often aren’t equipped with self-cancelling turn signals, and riders sometimes forget to turn them off, so make sure that bike is actually turning before you make a move.
  • Allow more follow distance when behind a motorcycle, to allow more time and space to react in the case of an emergency stop (for both of you!)

And for our motorcyclist friends:

So let’s watch out for each other! With a little extra care we can make sure we’re all enjoying being on the road this season, and all year long.

Wishing motorcyclists and motorists across the country a happy spring and safe driving!

~  Paul D.

Staying Safe During the Daylight Saving Time Change

I’m of two minds at this time of year. I’m excited that spring is almost here: days warm up, trees sprout new growth, and outdoor patios beckon. But then I remember that to get to all that good stuff, we have to endure Daylight Saving Time – that dreaded day when clocks “spring ahead” an hour and I’m sleepy and cranky for a few days. And that day is happening this weekend (except for you lucky folks in Saskatchewan, parts of BC and the Yukon). Sigh.

Woman Yawning while Driving Car

Aside from me being cranky, there are some real impacts of the bi-annual time change. Studies have shown that time changes, both spring and fall, result in detrimental health effects as well as increased traffic accidents. But if we know the time change is coming, there are steps we can take to protect others and ourselves when we’re on the road.

  • Go to bed early all weekend. Start going to bed early on the Friday and Saturday before Daylight Saving Time kicks in - it will help your body adjust sooner.
  • A lot of us have been working remotely for the last two years. If you have the option to telecommute, the Monday after Daylight Saving Time is the time to do it. Enjoy a little more sleep and avoid potentially sleepy drivers going to and from the office.
  • Acknowledge that your body is out of whack and take a little extra time. Take a moment when you get into the car to really focus on the route you're about to take. Apparently it can take as long as two weeks for our bodies to adjust to the change in time - so be sure to keep tabs on your fatigue and avoid driving when sleepy.
  • Cut down on in-car distractions. Consider leaving the music off and if you're a coffee drinker, enjoy that java before you leave the house or after you get to work - no sipping on the road!
  • Keep it cool. If it's warm in the car, you'll feel cozy…and drowsy. Keeping the car cooler will help you stay alert. Turn down the heat or open the window for a little fresh air.
  • Focus to AND from work. You might think that the most accidents happen in the morning following Daylight Saving Time but in fact, the majority of them happened on the afternoon commute home, when your lack of sleep may really be catching up with you. Take a moment before leaving work to relax and focus on that drive home.
  • Bring the right eyewear. You may have been heading home in twilight the last few weeks and with the time change, the day will still be bright. Make sure to have your sunglasses on hand, particularly if you're driving west.

Do you have any post-Daylight Saving Time "getting back to normal" rituals? Share them in the comments! And be safe out there on Monday!

~Kate T.

From Halloween to Daylight Saving Time - Fall Driving Safety Tips

Two of my favourite times of year are upon us – Halloween this Sunday followed by the end of Daylight Saving Time next Sunday. While adorable ghouls and goblins and an extra hour of sleep are both delightful, these events also bring with them some safety challenges for drivers, so I thought now would be a great time for a general refresher on safe driving in the fall.

Fall Driving Safety Tips

Keep your car clean

As the days get darker and rainier, seeing and being seen on the road is important. Keep your windshield, windows, headlights and taillights clean and, if you’re like me and park on a street full of majestic maples, make sure your car is clear of leafy debris. Fall leaves can be a visual hazard and, left on too long, can damage the finish on your car.

Eliminate distractions in the car

Despite hefty fines in some areas for distracted driving, I still see folks gently drifting into other lanes while they’re on their phones. Put the phone away and focus on the road.

Slow down, especially in residential neighbourhoods

This is particularly relevant for Halloween, where you may find little witches and warlocks darting out from between parked cars or crossing in the middle of the street. Plus, with twilight coming earlier after next weekend, it may be harder to see cyclists or your dog-walking neighbour. It's up to you to be on alert!

Don’t drive tired

This applies to every time you drive but with the end of Daylight Saving Time, your circadian rhythms will be disrupted, leading to slower reflexes and poorer decision-making ability.

Try to go to bed at your usual time next weekend (instead of staying up for that extra “free” hour) and remember that it can take up to two weeks for your body to adjust to the time change.

 Leave extra time to get where you’re going

Being in a rush rarely leads to great driving choices. As the days get shorter, routes you’re used to driving in daylight may get more challenging. Be sure to:

  • leave extra time to clean your car if necessary;
  • take a moment to get into mental “driving mode” before your drive; and
  • try to stay chill on the road.

A final tip: as autumn comes to a close, check out our checklist for preparing your vehicle for Canadian winter.

How do you adjust your driving routine when the days start to shorten? Let us know in the comments!

~Rose R.

Safety Advice for Teen Drivers

A long time ago, when it was time to take my driver’s test, my friend Carmen was kind enough to lend me her car as well as get up early on a Saturday and drive me to the DMV. That’s friendship! As we were about to pull out of her driveway, Carmen’s dad sauntered out of the garage and up to the car. He leaned down, poked his head through the window and said, “I’m going to tell you what I told Carmen when she got her license.” He paused for dramatic effect and then slowly said, “Never drive angry.” Then he stood up, patted the hood of the car and strolled away.

Driving Exam

At 18, I don’t think I fully understood that advice. But I have thought about it regularly over the years and it has certainly stood me in good stead. With next week, October 17 – 23, being National Teen Driver Safety week – sponsored by Parachute, a national Canadian charity dedicated to creating a safer Canada – I wondered what other sage advice friends and colleagues had received as they started their driving careers. So I asked around and received a few stories to share.

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From Bryan R., Unit Leader at Suncor…
“Something I took away from Drivers Ed in Fort McMurray in 1998: in the winter, do 80% of your braking before you need to come to a stop. Slippery conditions can leave you with less room to stop than you normally need.”

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From Kiret B., Project Lead at Suncor…
“I grew up in Vancouver and learned how to drive from a family friend who owned a driving school. The greatest tip he ever gave me is that you cannot control what is happening in front of you but you can have an influence on what is happening behind you.

Kiret at 19 years old
Kiret at 19 years old, standing behind the second car

The way to do that is by watching your following distance: if someone is following you too closely, keep an extra bit of room from the car in front of you. Then in case of an emergency stop, you have enough distance to stop safely plus there is an extra margin for the person behind you to hopefully stop without hitting your car.”

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From Elizabeth B., Director, Transformation Office at Suncor…
“My Grandpa used to say - signal before you brake.”

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From Paul D., Community Manager at LintBucket Media…
“I remember one time, learning to drive on a rural road with my Dad. We were going the speed limit, but even so it wasn’t long before an impatient pick-up was riding our tail. It was on us for a while, trying to bully me into going faster, before it finally peeled out to overtake us - the driver gesticulating rudely and swearing at me through the open window. I had so many impulses: I wanted to gesture back, shout, lay on the horn, accelerate and tail him for a while, maybe pass him and shout some choice words of my own - see how he liked it!

My dad must have sensed what I was thinking. ‘Just breathe. There are jerks everywhere. Don’t let it get to you, and never retaliate. You are responsible for your own safety, and the safety of your passengers first.’ Now I live in Ontario and drive the 401 on a regular basis. That advice comes in handy!”

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Many thanks to everyone who shared their stories with me! Did you receive some key advice as a teen driver that has stayed with you? Share it in the comments!

~ Kate T.

Keep Your Focus on the Road – Avoid Distracted Driving

The arrival of spring and cherry blossom season in Vancouver makes me keen to get out of the house and out into the world – while staying safe, of course. Staying safe is not only masks and physical distancing. Perhaps the number one way to stay safe on the roads is to avoid distracted driving.

The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators defines distracted driving as

Distracted driving is when a driver’s attention is diverted from the driving task by secondary activities (e.g., eating, talking to passengers, talking or texting on electronic communication devices (ECDs) such as cell phones and smart phones).

The specifics of what constitutes distracted driving, varies between provinces and territories.

infographic what counts as distracted driving

CanadaDrives.ca, who created the infographic above, has put together an excellent article that reviews the distracted driving penalties in each province and territory.

According to data from Transport Canada’s National Collision Database, distracted driving contributed to an estimated 21% of fatal collisions and 27% of serious injury collisions in 2016. These statistics show an upward trend in distracted driving incidents: fatal collisions were 16% and serious injury collisions 22% a decade earlier.

Transport Canada encourages every driver to take responsibility and drive distraction-free:

  • Never text while driving, even when you are stopped in traffic or at a traffic light
  • If you must send or receive a call or text, pull over to a safe location and park your car first
  • Avoid using any device that may take your attention away from the task of driving, including your car’s navigation or infotainment systems
  • Keep your eyes on the road and safely control your vehicle at all times
  • Encourage friends and family to drive distraction-free

When I get in the driver’s seat of my car, I put my phone on silent and put it in the glove compartment. It can be really hard to do – I’m attached to my phone like everyone else. But I remind myself that even if someone calls or texts me, they would want me to drive safe rather than answer – for my sake and those I share the road with.

~ Kate T.