Driver Safety Tips
In order to own and operate a vehicle in Canada, you need to have a valid car insurance policy in place at all times. However, there’s more to owning a vehicle than simply having good coverage on it – you need to also maintain your vehicle and practice the rules of the road, every time you take it out. Here are some of the top driver safety tips in Canada. (Note: Some of them can even save you money!)
- Test your lights. Make sure you regularly check your brake lights, turn signals and headlights, to see if everything is still working or if any bulbs need to be replaced. Also, make sure you actually use your lights! Get into the habit of using your headlights at all times (especially in the dark or in poor weather conditions), use your turn signals and brake before you turn.
- Check your tires. Do this regularly, to ensure they are properly inflated. There should be a sticker on the inside of your driver’s side front door that tells you what the recommended pressure is in PSI (pounds per square inch). Keep a tire gauge in the glove box, so you can check the pressure when you fill them up. Tires that are under-inflated are prone to damage and contribute to higher fuel costs.
- Replace your tires. As much as you might hate spending money on your vehicle, tires are the one thing that should be an exception to that rule. Tires don’t last forever. Rubber ages, loses its elasticity, hardens and can become brittle. Because of this, experts say you should replace your tires every 6 years (or if you’ve driven the number of kilometres included in their warranty). You can also improve safety (and save on car insurance in some provinces) by using winter tires when the temperature drops below 7 degrees Celsius.
- Check your fluids. Always have at least ¼ of a tank of gas in your car (especially in the cooler weather); this helps keep the engine warm and running smoothly. Check all your other fluids regularly, including the window wiper fluid (change it seasonally, if needed) and oil. It’s also important to do oil changes every 5,000km, so you keep the engine well-lubricated. Running out of oil while driving will cost you.
- “Keep your hands at 10 and 2” – o’clock, that is. This is one of the first things we’re taught, perhaps even before we sit in the driver’s seat, and it’s also one of the first things we get into a bad habit of not doing after we get our licenses. Keeping your left hand somewhere between 9-10 o’clock and your right hand behind between 2-3 o’clock is the best position to not only keep you going straight, but also to give you full control if you’re in an accident.
- Obey the law. That means obeying the speed limits, following traffic lights, respecting signs on the road, etc. If obeying the law sounds boring, try to remember how much fun it is to pay a ticket (or worse yet, get in an accident).
- Go hands-free. If you feel the need to use your cell phone in the car, make sure it’s setup so you can make/receive calls without having to actually touch the phone. Or, better yet, just don’t use your cell phone at all. Humans survived for decades without using phones in their cars; surely, we can continue to survive this way. So leave it in your purse/pocket/glove box, until you arrive at your destination. (And pull over, if you really need to make a call.)
- Keep your distance. Whether you’re annoyed at the driver in front of you, or truly just don’t understand how much distance should be between you and the vehicle ahead, don’t tailgate. Stay far enough back that you can always see the bottom of the car in front of you and its tires hitting the road. Be even more conscious of this in the winter, or in any wet weather conditions, as the extra room will give you more time to brake (which you will need on the bad roads).
- Lower the volume. Whether you’re listening to music, or talking with passengers in the car, keep the volume at an appropriate level. The louder the noises are inside your vehicle, the more distracted you can get – and the greater the chance you won’t hear important noises around you, such as sirens from emergency vehicles. (To add to this: Pay attention to what’s around you, so you know when to turn the volume off or stop talking completely, so you can pay full attention to a situation.)
- Drive defensively – and don’t confuse defensive with aggressive! To drive defensively simply means that you should drive with the mindset that anyone around you could cause an accident at any time. Keep your eyes on the road, check your blind spots and use your mirrors, to see what’s going on around you and be prepared for the unsafe actions of other motorists.
And, of course, wear your seatbelt. We’re pretty sure this doesn’t need to be said, but we wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if we didn’t mention it!