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5 Must Read Tips For Being A Safer Driver

May 13, 2015

Foggy conditions can make it hard to see cyclistsHigh fatality rates among vulnerable road users drives annual safety campaign to remind drivers to remain vigilant and aware while driving.

“I Spy With My Little Eye” is a popular game to play with kids when you’re driving, but it’s also an important reminder to keep your eyes open in general, especially when it comes to vulnerable road users.

Vulnerable road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, accounted for one in four fatalities—representing more than 500 deaths—recorded on Canadian roads in 2012, according to the Canadian Safety Council. While deaths to vehicle occupants have declined over the years, vulnerable road user fatalities remain high.

Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists can be hard to see, especially at night, which is why drivers need to be proactive about preventing collisions from occurring. It’s a responsibility we sometimes neglect as we become comfortable in our driving routines, but it could be the difference between life and death for a vulnerable road user.

National Road Safety Week

The Canada Safety Council is using National Road Safety Week, which runs from May 12-18, to urge drivers to be vigilant and aware when they’re behind the wheel in an effort to prevent fatalities to vulnerable road users.

The organization has five tips to help drivers drive safe. We’ve listed them below and added in our own insights.

  1. Focus – Distracted driving is the number one killer on the roads and has played a role in almost 25 per cent of all road fatalities in Ontario so far in 2015, according to the Ontario Provincial Police. Drivers can enhance their focus by leaving their phones alone and turning off notifications to reduce temptation. If it’s too tempting, throw your phone in your trunk or glove box. A text is not worth the cost of a life.

    Related Read: Alberta Toughens Laws Against Distracted Driving

  2. Always play the “eye spy” game. Keep your eyes open for the little guys – pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Remember to give them space, to slow down when making turns, and remain cautious even after you’ve stopped your car. Always check over your shoulder, especially before opening your car door. You don’t want to give anyone the infamous door prize, which can be fatal.
  3. Stay calm and courteous. Everyone has somewhere to be. Be patient and calm when behind the wheel.

    Related Read: Tips For Avoiding the Most Common Traffic Tickets

  4. Keep your speed in check. You have the power to influence other drivers, whether you’re driving too fast or too slow, both of which can put drivers and vulnerable road users at risk. Sticking to the speed limit can save a life. One study showed that a pedestrian hit by a driver doing 40 km/h has a 25 per cent chance of dying, which increased to 85 per cent at 60 km/h.
  5. Leave lots of space, especially around cyclists. It takes way less time to brake on two wheels than it does on four, so always leave enough space to safely stop if someone on two wheels is in front of you. When you’re passing a cyclist be sure to slow down and leave a minimum of one metre between you. If possible, it’s recommend you change lanes. If not, be sure to maintain a safe distance, stay back and only pass when it’s safe for you and the cyclist.

    Related Read: The Season of Long Weekends Is Here – Staying Safe On The Roads

I Spy Safety

Remember, if you are in an at-fault accident you’re likely looking at automatic increases to your auto insurance premiums. Even tickets or charges that appear minor can affect your rates in major ways.

Every time you drive is an opportunity to play the “eye spy” game. Look around you carefully to ensure you’re aware of whom you’re sharing the road with. It could prevent a collision, and save a life.

  • Rick

    A cyclist is entitled to the whole lane in which they are driving a motor vehicle legally has to use the passing lane where ever possible ,and without a passing lane they have to wait until there is no oncoming traffic to safely pass since most lanes of traffic do not have the space for a vehicle to pass safely, it makes me wonder why the police and the media do not drive this fact and the law home to motorists, if you see a cyclist move to the other lane its the law, I drive my bike 1′ outside of the sewers which means i am 3′ from the curb i do not go in and out for sewers so on every road in the gta this means every car would have to straddle two lanes to some extent, motorists need to be informed of a cyclists rights and they need to be ticketed when they disobey the LAW

  • http://www.crsoakville.com/ CRS Automotive Oakville

    “Eye spy” game, as is said in the article, is the most important, but nothing less than the other listed. In essence, must be cautious until we drive.

  • mike

    No it is not the law. The rule is, give cyclist 3′ when possible. lf a cyclist is not riding near the speed limit, you can not expect vehicles to crawl slowly behind you.

  • Linda Hales

    Cyclists should be licensed to drive on public roadways and be as accountable as motor vehicle drivers. Road safety is a shared responsibility – not a one-sided one. Nothing would be more devastating than to injure or kill anyone on the road so always keep in mind that motorists are human too and care every bit as as much as the cyclist. Yes there are idiots in both groups but as a rule, PEOPLE CARE ABOUT PEOPLE. How about some balanced education so that we get a balanced result.

  • JasperJ

    As a pedestrian, a cyclist, and a motorist, I have to say that the road users I fear most are cyclists: cyclists on sidewalks, on pedestrian crosswalks, on the wrong side of the road, with no lights after dark, not stopping for stop signs, and riding on sidewalks and shared pathways at top speed with no bell on the bike. I have been knocked off my bike by a motorist who “just didn’t see me”, but I have several times narrowly escaped being hit by cyclists on sidewalks and shared pathways, and narrowly avoided being traumatized by knocking down cyclists ignoring the rules of the road (including one riding after dark in dark clothes, without any lights, on the sidewalk, on the wrong side of the road.

  • Linda Hales

    Yes – all of the above yet there are many responsible cyclists too, Regrettably, the irresponsible cyclists will continue to get away with it until the law realizes that the only way they can be held accountable and become responsible is to be licensed. That is the only way that they can be tracked down for breaking the law – just as motor vehicles do – LICENSING will create an even playing field. They must share the responsibility – not so one sided.

  • L.D. Neill

    Probably not the place to complain but it is a safety hazard to be aware of. It’s about the transports on the 401. Kingston to Toronto for sure. They are now governed at 110 while the passenger vehicles are in the majority, driving 118/120. The truckers are playing a very sick game of passing each other, seems like every ten minutes, making the passenger vehicle pile up behind them.
    Keeping space is next to impossible.

    This is very dangerous, one of them that put it’s blinkers on when my front wheels where at his back tires blasted his horn at me because he nearly ran me off the road? No, because I interfered with their dangerous hopscotch driving patterns.

    From now on I take hwy 2 home from Kingston, I might get lost at the circle but it’s better then being run off the road or slicing into another vehicle that is trying to jokey for position on a crowded highway.

  • CycleChick

    DEAR MOTORISTS: Cyclists are absolutely allowed to take a whole lane when needed for their safety. Motorists need to finally get educated about this!!! It is NOT OKAY to honk at me repeatedly when I take the lane on a road that is steep, narrow, has lots of pot holes, is generally hazardous to cyclists (ie. Bayview extension in Toronto), oh…and has TWO lanes! Your honking startles me and puts my life (and yours!) in jeopardy. Causing me to fall in front of you will not end well for either of us. And you will certainly be late to your destination!!! Have some respect… me and my bike (complete with flashing lights and reflective tape) will be out of your way as soon as I can safely do so!

  • mike

    Who said anything about honking or being disrespectful? Safety should always be #1. Please show me where the law says cyclist own the whole lane.

  • Jo

    Honestly cyclists suck in general. Buy a car and F off

  • barry

    how about proper bicycle lanes…….i don’t mean lines painted on the road…..i mean cement barricades the same as on the highways……one good example is found in vancouver bc……this protects the cyclists from the cars and cars from the cyclists…….the bicycle lobby claims to advocating for the cyclists…..how about 100′s of kilometers of paved pathways in park systems throughout the gta that already exist or 100′s of kilometers of sidestreets which in many cases run long distances……why would a cyclist want to ride their bike on the most dangerous main streets when they have the above option…….also be prepared for a shock if you’re driving downtown toronto on one way streets …..thanks to the lobby group(alleged) the city has painted lines arrow and signs giving cyclists the right to drive the wrong way on a one street…..there’s not to many things scarier on the road than to see a vehicle(bicycle) coming at you on a one way street.