5 Must Read Tips For Being A Safer Driver

High 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.