198 entries categorized "Driving"

It’s National Teen Driver Safety Week

I did not have an easy time learning to drive. Until I got my hand/eye coordination figured out, I was prone to drifting into an adjacent lane. Not good. My Driver’s Ed instructor, Coach Parker, used to keep his hand poised right above the steering wheel so he could guide the car back to its own lane if necessary.

Teen-driver-small

Still, even though it was tough when I learned to drive, I can’t imagine being a teen now and trying to figure it out, especially with advent of cell phones and the legalization of cannabis. Sure, we watched MADD videos and understood the importance of not driving while alcohol-impaired, but it seems that teens and new drivers have a lot more to worry about in 2019.

Parachute-2019NTSDW-banner-EN

That’s why programs like Parachute’s “Teen Driver Safety Week” are so important. They focus on the key issues that impact young drivers and their passengers and educate them on how to stay safe on the roads. These issues include:

  • Impairment from alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both
  • Distraction, including from cell phone use
  • Lack of skill and experience
  • Speeding

During “Teen Driver Safety Week”, Parachute encourages communities to raise issues around and engage in conversations with teen drivers, including activities such as “Positive Ticketing Blitzes” where student and local police work together to give out positive tickets to drivers who exhibit safe behaviour.

Parachute has also created videos like the one below to educate students about the impact of driving while impaired.

More information as well as downloadable resources are available on Parachute’s website. Have you participated in initiatives that promote safe driving in your community? Tell us about it in the comments!

~ Rose R.


Keeping Chill on Your Commute

A while ago, I had a job where I drove 30 minutes each way. Well, most days it was 30 minutes each way. Occasionally I would leave 10 minutes later than usual and those 10 minutes added another 20 minutes and a whole lot of stress to my commute. Leaving later meant there were more people on the road, worried about being late and trying to get to work on time. Inevitably, some of them drove like jerks.

When that happened, I had to work pretty hard to stay relaxed on my drive. Watching other drivers commit reckless moves only to get one car ahead increased my resolve to remain calm and, ideally, cheerful. Keeping chill on the commute (and getting to work in a good mood) usually required engaging my body, mind and emotions. Here are a few of the strategies I used:

Breathe. We wrote about this is a previous PumpTalk post - Breathe in through your nose, slowly, for five seconds. Hold your breath for three seconds. Breathe out through pursed lips, slowly and gently, for seven seconds. Repeat.

Roll or drop your shoulders. Something else I learned in yoga – when your shoulders are high or hunched, you feel more stressed. Try to drop your shoulders when you’re driving. And, if you feel safe and comfortable, give them a good backwards roll or two. Keeps things loose.

Hydrate. I was originally a caffeine junkie on my commute. But then one day, on the advice of a friend, I switched to water with a little lemon in it (she also recommended cucumber – like the spa). I found it so refreshing that I started saving my coffee fix for after I arrived at the office.

Learn a language instead of listening to an audio book. I have so many friends who love listening to audio books on their commutes. I find that listening to audio books make me sleepy. Instead, I’ll pop in a language disc, especially one that focuses on conversational skills. It keeps my mind engaged more than just listening to a book.

Focus on Gratitude. Cruising down the 401 isn’t really the best time for a hardcore meditation, but I do find that spending some time being grateful is doable and a pleasant way to pass time while driving. It makes those times when another driver doesn’t seem to appreciate the wisdom of the zipper merge less fraught; it’s harder to get angry when you’re listing the things you’re grateful for.

How do you stay chill on your commute? I’d love to hear your tips – leave a comment below!

~Rose R.


Safety Tips for Back To School Season

More folks on the road, more kids on the sidewalk, pumpkin-flavoured drinks on the menu – must be back to school time! As the days get shorter and the traffic gets busier, here’s a refresher on sharing the road and staying safe this time of year.

School Bus

Put down your phone. This applies to both drivers AND pedestrians. That’s right, I’m looking at you, kid who walked right into my dog this morning because he was too distracted by his phone to watch where he was going. Distracted driving due to phone use has become a major problem; and distracted walking has its own set of perils. Put your phone away when you’re driving or walking.

Turn down the tunes. Here’s another tip for both drivers and pedestrians; if you’re listening to music, in your car or on your headphones, keep it at a reasonable level so you can still hear ambient sounds.

Allow extra driving time for your commute. Traffic is generally more congested when school is back in session - even if you don't live near a school, your drive times may be affected. Try to leave a half hour earlier than you usually would, at least for the first few weeks of the fall - then you'll be able to take your time and keep an eye out for darting children without worrying that you'll be late for work.

Respect the speed limits. Obviously, speed limits are lower in school zones, but be vigilant when driving in residential areas as well. While the weather is still good, more kids will be walking, skateboarding or riding their bikes to school. Children on the sidewalk can be difficult to see behind cars parked on the street, so be sure to scan the ground for little feet getting ready to cross the road.

Obey the school bus rules. When the upper red lights are flashing, drivers travelling in either direction must stop until all of the children have exited the bus. Also, if you're behind a school bus, be sure and leave lots of room - they often make sudden stops.

Take it easy on new drivers. In high school areas, newly licensed drivers who've been practising all summer may be experiencing back to school traffic for the first time. Be patient and set a good example for those more inexperienced drivers - after all, you were just like them once.

Back to school time is a good time to educate your kids on pedestrian safety. Check out this article from Parachute Canada for more tips on how best to teach your kids to stay safe on the streets.

Do you notice a change in traffic patterns when school is back in session? What kind of adjustments do you make to your commute? Let us know in the comments. Hope you all have a safe and happy back-to-school season!

- Rose R.


The AJAC’s EcoRun Comes to Alberta

Summer vacation is imminent. Which means the arrival of the annual summer visit from my mother-in-law is also imminent. I’ve been looking for fun places for us to visit. We’ve done trips to Kelowna and Victoria, but it may be time to go further afoot. Time to visit Alberta.

2019 AJAC EcoRun

Coincidentally, it’s also time for the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada’s annual EcoRun. And this year, it’s headed to Alberta! I was checking out their route and they are visiting some great places:

The AJAC’s annual EcoRun shows off a variety of eco-friendly vehicles, which include pure electrics, plug-in and conventional hybrids, hydrogen fuel cells, diesel-fuelled powertrains and highly-efficient gasoline options. They select a different area of the country each year to test out a number of vehicles. Last year they were in New Brunswick. This year’s run through Alberta includes twenty different eco-friendly vehicles; you can check out the full list on their site.

This year’s route through Alberta is 920 KM. In addition to testing out a variety of vehicles, participating journalists will also be competing to win the Green Jersey – awarded to the driver with the best overall eco-driving record on the EcoRun. The journalists also gather real-world driving and fuel economy stats on these eco-friendly vehicles that they then share with consumers through their media outlets. If you’re not familiar with the EcoRun, check out the AJAC’s video after last year’s EcoRun in New Brunswick.

This year, Petro-Canada is proud to be a sponsor of AJAC’s EcoRun and we’re looking forward to greeting the EcoRunners at our Canmore station and chatting about our new EV fast charging stations. Plus, some of our team will be following the run. You can check out our Instagram for some pics from the road.

- Rose R.


Staying Safe on the Roads This Summer

Isn't the first long weekend of the summer season glorious? Victoria Day kicked it off a couple of weeks ago; now we have St. Jean Baptiste Day, Canada Day, Civic Holiday and Labour Day to look forward to. Hopefully lots of fun and good times. However, these long weekends, and the summer driving season in general, bring a special set of conditions that drivers should be aware of en route to good times.

Road in Nova Scotia

For example, as drivers, we're hauling more gear - on top of our cars as well as in trailers we're towing. Last year, on our way to Kelowna, an RV that was a couple of lanes over and a few car lengths ahead, hit a bump and the two bikes that were on the rack on the back bounced off. They went flying onto the highway. Several cars, including us, swerved to avoid them. It was a very scary moment and truly a miracle that we weren't in an accident. MEC has an excellent article on safely transporting a kayak on your roof and the Quebec chapter of the CAA has some good advice for towing a trailer safely.

The loads we're carrying aren't the only concern. Because we're on holiday we tend to be in good moods which actually makes us drive a little more recklessly; we lose our focus and those momentary lapses can cause accidents. We also take more risks such as not wearing a seatbelt: you know the excuses .. "it's a slow rural road" or "I want to be comfortable on my long road trip". In case you need a refresher, the CAA has some reminders about seatbelt basics.

Finally, and this is a problem no matter the season, texting and driving remains a huge issue. The CAA has some sobering facts about texting and driving:

  • Checking a text for 5 seconds means that at 90 km/h, you’ve travelled the length of a football field blindfolded.
  • About 26% of all car crashes involve phone use, including hands-free phone use. (National Safety Council)
  • Estimates indicate drivers using phones look at, but fail to see, up to 50% of the information in their driving environment. (National Safety Council, 2012)

So give those phones to a passenger for safe-keeping or stow them in your glove compartments until you get where you’re going. Stay alert on the roads this summer and get safely to your destinations!

- Rose R.