‘Slow down, save a life.’
When you slow down, you increase safety for yourself, your passengers, as well as all other users of the roadways.
Driving a few km/h over the posted speed limit:
- reduces your ability to navigate safely around curves and potential road hazards,
- increases the distance required for the vehicle to stop in an emergency situation,
- increases the chances of losing control of the vehicle,
- reduces the effectiveness of safety devices both inside and outside of the vehicle,
- increases the probability of death or injury in the event of a collision.
Speeding saves little time if any, and is not worth the gamble.
‘What’s holding you back?’
The proper use of occupant restraints significantly decreases the severity of injuries sustained as a result of motor vehicle collisions. Research and collision investigations indicate that seat belts increase the chances of survival in a collision by 50 per cent. According to Transport Canada, almost 40 per cent of drivers and passengers killed in collisions were not buckled up at the time of the crash.
When a vehicle stops suddenly in a collision, any unrestrained persons or objects continue traveling at the same speed until they hit something. This can included any object in the vehicle, part of the vehicle or another occupant. The proper use of seatbelts, and other occupant restraints such as child car seats, is often accredited with the prevention of death or injury in the event of a collision.
‘Distracted Driving is Distracting
Research indicates that driver distraction contributes to almost 30% of all collisions and distracted drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a collision than attentive drivers. It only takes a second of lost focus for a collision to occur. The use of handheld devices, and the performance of other activities such as reading, grooming, or watching a computer/television screen, all contribute to distracted driving.
Not only are these actions distracting the violator themselves but it is also distracting to other motorists. Since the implementation of the provincial distracted driving legislation, more and more motorists are taking note of other drivers talking on their cell phone or engaging in other distracting behaviour while operating a vehicle. Keep your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road!
‘Even with the Right-of-Way, Proceed with Caution’
Intersections can be complex and for an inattentive motorist can be quite confusing since there are a number of things that need to be multitasked into proceeding through an intersection safely.
Did you know?
- An uncontrolled intersection is any intersection that does not have any traffic control device such as signals or signs. When approaching an uncontrolled intersection check left and right for traffic, slow down and be prepared to stop. Always yield the right of way to the vehicle on the right.
- An intersection where the traffic control device is not functioning properly is to be treated like an all-way stop. Vehicles are to come to a complete stop at the stop line and take turns proceeding into the intersection after yielding to traffic already in the intersection. When in doubt as to which vehicle was first, always yield to the right.
- Directions given by a police officer overrule traffic signs or signals. Drivers are to pay close attention to directions and be alert to when they may proceed through the intersection.
- Emergency vehicles with lights and sirens activated are given the right of way when proceeding through intersection. Other vehicles are to stop and pull over to the right side to allow emergency vehicles to pass through the intersection safely.
- Flashing red lights at an intersection act as a stop sign, vehicles must come to a stop before crossing the stop line or crosswalk. Vehicles facing flashing amber lights may proceed with caution after yielding to pedestrians and other traffic in the intersection.
- Signal lights changing from green to yellow means slow down. Drivers proceeding through intersections on yellow lights by speeding up or engaging in other dangerous driving patterns risk facing fines.
- Although drivers are permitted to turn right on a red light in Alberta unless otherwise marked, vehicles must come to a complete stop prior to entering the intersection and may proceed only when safe to do so.
- Vehicles should not engage an intersection if there exists the probability that they will end up impeding other traffic. Keep intersections clear so that other traffic may proceed if the signal lights change colour.
- Pedestrians always have the right of way at an unmarked intersection or stop sign unless otherwise indicated by signage. Pedestrians also have the right of way when using marked crosswalks properly.
Intersections are among the most dangerous areas of the roadways given that this is where numerous vehicles are often moving at varying speeds and in different directions. When using intersections be alert and aware to the other vehicles and pedestrians.
‘Be alert, drive sober!’
In Alberta, an average of 1 in 5 or 20% of drivers involved in fatal collisions had been drinking prior to the collision. On average, 8100 people are convicted of impaired driving each year in this Province alone. Impairment can be caused by alcohol or drugs. This includes prescription drugs as they can reduce judgment and decrease motor skills. Impairment begins with the first drink.
The effects of alcohol vary greatly and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can vary due to rate of consumption, rate of absorption, and rate of elimination. Impairment is not determined by the type of drink but rather by the amount of alcohol ingested over a specific period of time. A bottle of beer, a glass of wine and a shot of hard liquor all contain approximately the same amount of alcohol.
- Designate a responsible person to be the sober driver.
- Take a taxi or another form of public transportation.
- Leave your vehicle overnight. Some places have services where they drive your vehicle home.
- Utilize courtesy vehicles or shuttle services if available.
- Be a good friend. Ensure those around you don’t drink and drive.
Possible Signs of an Impaired Driver may include but are not limited to:
- Driving unreasonably fast, slow or at an inconsistent speed.
- Drifting in and out of lanes.
- Tailgating or changing lanes frequently.
- Making exceptionally wide turns.
- Changing lanes or passing without sufficient clearance.
- Overshooting or stopping well before stop signs or stop lights.
- Disregarding traffic lights and signs.
- Approaching or leaving intersections too quickly or too slowly.
- Driving without headlights, failing to lower high beams or leaving turn signals on.
- Driving with windows open in cold or inclement weather.
What to do if you Witness a Suspected Impaired Driver:
- Always maintain a safe distance from any driver you suspect might be impaired.
- Record the vehicle’s description (make, model, and colour), vehicle license plate, direction of travel, description of the driver, and vehicle’s driving pattern.
- When safe to do so, dial 911 or call your local police service directly. Never try to apprehend the impaired driver yourself.
The bottom line is… If you have consumed any alcohol at all, then why take the risk? Be responsible and plan ahead. There are many safe alternatives to getting behind the wheel after a night out.
‘There’s no breathalyzer for tired… but there should be.’
While impaired driving is usually associated to the operator having consumed a mind-altering substance such as alcohol or drugs; can one be impaired by lack of sleep? Driving tired is driving impaired as fatigue affects our ability to safely and effectively operate the vehicle due to slowed reaction time and decreased awareness.
Telltale signs that you may be too tired to drive include loss of concentration, drowsiness, yawning, slow reactions, sore or tired eyes, boredom, feeling irritable and restless, missing road signs, difficulty staying in the proper lane, and nodding off. Drivers experiencing these symptoms are encouraged to seek a safe area to pull over and rest.
Protect yourself and others while travelling with the following tips:
- Drive only during your normal waking hours.
- Stay well hydrated and travel with extra bottles of water.
- Avoid medications that cause drowsiness, even over the counter. This includes cold and allergy medications.
- Avoid the consumption of any alcohol as it compounds fatigue issues.
- Roll down your window to allow fresh air into your vehicle.
- Pull over and take a stretch break every 2 hours or when you feel yourself starting to fade.
Although impaired driving due to fatigue does not fall into the same chargeable offence category as impairment due to drug or alcohol, drivers can still be charged under a variety of acts, both federally and provincially, for driving tired and face substantial penalties upon conviction.