Safe driving is an act of courtesy for yourself and those around you. In Canada, there are 160,000 car accidents each year of which 2,800 - 2,900 result in deaths.
Familiarize yourself with these basic safety tips every driver should know, and help keep yourself and other drivers safe while you’re on the road.
Here are 10 safety tips every driver should know:
- Practice defensive driving
- Give others space
- Use high beams sparingly
- Don’t neglect routine maintenance
- Don’t drive distracted
- Buckle up every time
- Give way to pedestrians
- Watch your speed
- Let others merge
- Don’t engage in road rage
Being mindful of these tips for drivers can keep you, your passengers, and other drivers safe while you’re on the roads.
1. Practice defensive driving
Proactively anticipating possible hazardous situations can save lives. Defensive driving can include:
- Always signaling
- Avoiding other vehicles’ blind spots
- Slowing down at intersections
- Ignoring distractions and staying focused on the road
- Being on the lookout for potential risks
- Being ready for the fact that other drivers may make mistakes
Maintaining controllable speeds and being aware of your surroundings are essential for safe driving. You’re even encouraged to yield at intersections when you have the right of way.
2. Give others plenty of space
It’s dangerous and disrespectful to tailgate another car. Giving other drivers plenty of room can reduce your chances of being involved in a collision or other type of accident.
Use the three- or four-second rule to check that you’re following other vehicles at a safe distance. Using this rule, you:
- Choose an object ahead (e.g. a road sign)
- Observe when the driver in front of you passes the object
- Be sure that it takes at least three to four seconds for you to pass the same object.
3. Use high beams sparingly
If you need to use your high beams occasionally at night to see the road ahead, use them sparingly and turn them off when other motorists are within sight. High beam lights can distract and temporarily blind other drivers.
4. Don’t neglect routine maintenance
Staying on top of routine maintenance (having your vehicle inspected, fixing issues as soon as they arise) can prolong your vehicle’s life and help you avoid sudden breakdowns on the road.
Check your tire pressure regularly, including every time you head out for a longer trip. And have your car’s oil, transmission fluid, coolant, brake fluid, and power steering fluid inspected regularly and replaced if necessary.
5. Don’t drive distracted
Distracted driving is a huge cause for concern on the roads. Transport Canada’s National Collision Database shows that distracted driving was a factor in about 21% of fatal collisions and 27% of collisions resulting in serious injuries in 2016.
Distracted driving includes doing anything of the following while you’re behind the wheel:
- Talking on the phone
- Putting on makeup
- Reaching for things
- Operating handheld music devices
There are penalties for distracted driving in Ontario. As a driver, it’s your responsibility to stay focused at all times.
6. Buckle up every time
This should go without saying, but always wear your seatbelt when you’re in the car. If you have children in the car, you’ll need to make sure they’re buckled up with seatbelts or car seats, too.
Not sure how to correctly restrain your younger passengers? Book a virtual car seat check with a Child Passenger Safety Technician here.
Along with seatbelts and car seats, remember to obey the speed limit and avoid sharp turns, distracted driving, and other reckless behaviour. Remember that when you take the wheel, you assume responsibility for your passengers.
7. Give way to pedestrians
There are serious fines for endangering pedestrians in Ontario. Drivers are required to stop and yield the whole roadway at pedestrian crossovers, school crossings and other locations where there is a crossing guard. Only when pedestrians and school crossing guards have crossed and are safely on the sidewalk can drivers and cyclists proceed.
Remember: a little patience can help you in the long run, especially with seniors or pedestrians with disabilities who need more time to cross the road.
8. Watch your speed
Driving both too fast and too slow can be hazardous on the road, so it’s essential to watch your speed at all times. As a general rule, drive at the same speed as traffic around you without going over the speed limit.
27% of traffic fatalities on Canadian roads are the direct result of speeding. When you speed, your chances of being in a car crash go up by 4-5% for every mile per hour your speed increases. A good habit to develop is to leave five or ten minutes earlier than necessary. That way, you’ll never find yourself speeding just to arrive on time.
9. Let others merge
Merging onto a highway or freeway can be difficult, so it’s essential to be courteous and allow other merging drivers onto the road.
Freeway drivers should move over, if it is safe to do so, leaving room for merging vehicles.
10. Don’t engage in road rage
Courtesy and patience are essential for handling stressful traffic situations. When another motorist doesn’t follow traffic rules and laws, stay calm and don’t get upset, as this can escalate the situation.
Maintain space from inconsiderate drivers and let the police do their work instead of handling it yourself.
If you’re stressed behind the wheel, try taking a few deep breaths, take regular breaks from driving on longer trips, avoid honking the horn (unless absolutely necessary), and don’t take other drivers’ mistakes or behaviours personally.
Remember: if you drive responsibly and courteously, you’re less likely to spark a road rage situation.
Protect yourself from sudden, expensive breakdowns
If you drive an older vehicle, an extended used car warranty can protect you from sudden, expensive breakdowns that can occur while you’re on the road.
As Canada’s only used car warranty subscription, GuardTree provides protection from most major electrical and mechanical repairs. And our subscriptions also include additional benefits like roadside assistance, car rental, and trip interruption costs to keep you on the road.
Disclaimer: this post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute mechanical or other professional advice as it relates to your vehicle. Each person must consult a qualified professional with respect to matters referenced in this post. GuardTree Inc. assumes no liability whatsoever for actions taken (or not taken) in reliance upon the information contained herein.