Canada Road Safety Week: 10 Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving and Other Poor Choices While Driving

By Lesley Green
A young family out for a drive stopping to rest by a lake.

The annual road safety campaign kicks off on May 18 and runs until May 24, 2021.

When the May long weekend finally rolls around, it’s time to fire up the barbecue and say hello to spring; but the season’s official kick-off has a dark side — it is often fraught with bad and dangerous driving too.

The fact that Canada Road Safety Week kicks off the week prior to the first long weekend of the season of long weekends is no coincidence.

Canada Road Safety Week runs from May 18 to May 24 this year and is part of a national campaign to make Canada’s roads the safest in the world. Across the country, police will be out in force targeting high-risk driving behaviours, including distracted driving, drug or alcohol impaired driving, driving while fatigued, and aggressive driving. They’ll also be on the lookout for people not using their seatbelts.

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10 tips for a safer drive

Whether it’s a short or long drive this weekend, remember to:

  1. Prepare your vehicle. Top up your car’s windshield wiper fluid, ensure your tires are properly inflated, and remember to travel with an emergency roadside safety kit. You never know when you might need that flashlight or those jumper cables.
  2. Make sure you’ve got all your car-related documents handy. Anytime you get behind the wheel, check to ensure you have your driver’s licence, car insurance documents, vehicle ownership, and registration with you.
  3. Buckle up. Wearing a seatbelt saves lives. Strap in and make sure everyone in the car does too. And this includes pets. If travelling with pets, make sure they’re properly secured in the car. Your pet should never be free to roam about or sit on your lap. There are harnesses, crates and carriers that will ensure your pet is safe while you drive.
  4. Be patient. Even during COVID times, there’s no shortage of traffic. Keep your cool and take your time. Don’t drive aggressively and avoid speeding and tailgating.
  5. Give yourself room. Keep enough distance between your vehicle and the car in front to allow for safe stopping. If the weather is foul, double the two-second rule to ensure you have enough room to stop safely if needed. This means a four-second interval from when the car in front of you passes a fixed object until you reach the same object.
  6. Monitor the weather reports. If there’s rain in the forecast (or worse), adjust your driving to fit the conditions. Bad weather and poor visibility require you to drive slower than what’s posted. Posted speed limits designate the fastest speed at which you can safely travel in optimal road conditions. When roads and the weather are not optimal, ease up.
  7. Watch for emergency vehicles. If there is a collision along the way, give emergency personnel the space they need. Slow down and move over when passing police, ambulance, fire trucks, or tow trucks with flashing lights on. It’s the law. Also, don’t rubberneck! Resist the urge to look when passing a collision because not only does rubbernecking slow traffic further, but it could result in you causing another collision.
  8. Don’t drive distracted. Distracted driving is hazardous. Put your mobile phone on "Do Not Disturb," let your passengers select the music, and if you get hungry, pull over to snack.
  9. Don’t drive tired. Driver fatigue can result in poor driving decisions. If you’re tired, let someone else take the wheel or take a nap before hitting the road.
  10. Don’t drive impaired. Never get behind the wheel if you’ve consumed alcohol or cannabis. Always have a designated driver ready if you intend to partake in either.

Follow the rules of the road

During Canada Road Safety Week, you can probably count on a heavy police presence on the roads. Follow the speed limit, signal your lane changes, buckle up, put the phone away, and don’t drive impaired because it’s more than just keeping your car insurance rates low. It’s about arriving at your destination safely.