217 entries categorized "Driving"

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.

Cross-Canada Road Trippin’ in an EV

I love a good road trip. I’ve done a few memorable ones so far in my life, including a Waterloo, ON to North Battleford, SK trip that taught me the absolute truth of the lyrics in Wendell Ferguson’s song “Rocks and Trees” about the landscape of Northern Ontario:

Rocks & trees, trees & rocks
Reams and reams of endless trees and tons of rocks
The whole north is just proliferous
With metamorphic and coniferous
Rocks & trees, trees & rocks

The most exciting vehicle I drove in one of my road trip excursions was a 1976 Dodge Dart sedan. It was the mid-1990s at the time – as you might imagine, there were several stops for repairs along the way.

Ever since Petro-Canada completed their EV fast charge network along the TransCanada, I’ve been thinking I’d like to try another big trip – but this time in an EV. While I still haven’t been able to get out, I recently spoke to someone who had. Earlier this year, Marianne Kunic, with her brother, Agan, and her dog, Gigi, in tow - drove from Sechelt, BC to St. Stephen, NB in her Kia Soul EV, affectionately named “Cricket” because of its bright green colour.

Marianne and Agan

PumpTalk: Thanks for chatting about your recent cross-country trip with me! How did it go?

Marianne: We had a great time. It was lovely getting to spend quality one-on-one time with my brother, Agan. Plus he helped me manage any anxiety I had about the trip, such as planning a good route or finding a charger.

PT: Is Cricket your first EV?

Marianne: It’s my second. I’ve owned an EV for seven years now – both of them have been Kia Souls. Travelling in an EV really sparked a lot of good conversations. Everywhere we stopped, people were interested in electric vehicles – wanting to know more about them. Even in places where they don’t have a lot of charging stations, people were curious. There is definitely some anxiety about getting an EV – specifically about running out of charge. But the cars are so smart – they warn you ahead of time. It was like being an ambassador for EVs.

Marianne and Agan

PT: How was your experience at Petro-Canada’s EV fast chargers?

Marianne: We really like the Petro-Canada machines. They are well-lit, state of the art, easy to use. We used a lot of different chargers on the trip; we charged the battery two or three times a day, depending on the distance we travelled. The Petro-Canada ones were definitely our favourite, but there were some kinks that still need to be worked out.

We ran into some Wi-Fi problems at one station in Saskatchewan. The Wi-Fi by the charger was quite poor. So I was in the restaurant, talking to customer support and would then have to relay those instructions out the door to my brother who was at the charger – it made it a bit difficult.

And there was another location where the charger was out of service and the site staff was unable to fix it. So we ended up using an external outlet at a local motel. Took us three hours just to get enough of a charge to limp to the next fast charger.

Editor’s note: we thank Marianne for sharing this information with us! We’ve gotten in touch with the locations she mentioned and are working on solving these issues.

Agan and Gigi

PT: A lot of people, like myself, are considering going cross-country in an EV. What tips or advice can you share?

Marianne: Having an app that helps you locate the chargers is essential. We used the Petro-Canada EV app as well as ChargeHub and FLO (mainly in NB).

Make sure you update your car’s GPS maps before you leave. If you’re in an area without a connection, you’ll still want to have the latest maps.

Plot your route ahead of time and make sure you factor in enough time for charging. In general, charging time took longer than we anticipated. Build in an hour for each time you need to charge.

Drive at or below the speed limit. You use more charge if you go above the speed limit. Staying under made us a bit slower, but it stretched out the distance we were able to go. Using cruise control really helped with this.

PT: Would you do it again?

Marianne: Yes, in a heartbeat!


Marianne, thank you so much for sharing your experience driving across Canada in an EV with us! It always helps to hear from trailblazers and get the best tips and advice. What do you think, readers? Are you ready to drive across Canada in an EV?

~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.

Spring Ahead: Safety Tips for Daylight Saving Driving

Well, we’re coming up on my least favourite day of the year. The day the clocks “spring forward” – this year it’s Sunday, March 14 – and go back on Daylight Saving Time, except for you lucky ducks in Saskatchewan and the Yukon. The Monday after the time switch usually finds me a little cranky and disoriented.

Sleepy Woman in Car

And it’s not just me. Losing that hour of sleep can mess with the human body, which can in turn make driving the day after "springing forward" a dicey situation. In fact, according to a study done at McMaster University entitled "Sleep Deficit, Fatal Accidents and the Spring Shift to Daylight Savings Time", traffic accidents increased by 17% on the Monday after Daylight Savings Time (compared to an average Monday).

Disrupting our circadian rhythms can lead to slower reflexes and impaired decision-making ability - not great when you’re driving a vehicle. And although fewer folks are commuting these days, here are a few tips to help you stay alert after DST this weekend.

  • Go to bed early all weekend. Start going to bed early on the Friday and Saturday before Daylight Savings Time kicks in - it will help your body adjust sooner.
  • Acknowledge that your body is out of whack and take a little extra time for activities. If you’re getting into the car, take a moment to really focus on the route you're about to take.
  • 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.
  • If you’re driving to work, pay attention both to and from work. You might think that the most accidents happen in the morning following the time change but in fact, the majority of them happen 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 for the last few weeks. With the time change, the day will still be bright. Make sure to have your sunglasses on hand, particularly if you're driving west.

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.

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

~Kate T.