8 Deadly Dangers on the Road
According to Transport Canada, 30,000 people in Canada have been killed in car crashes in the last decade. That’s enough people to fill Regina’s Mosaic Stadium. Steering clear of these dangerous driving mistakes can help you avoid being a grim statistic.
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While a brisk ride is a selling factor for many brands of cars, the reality is that speed is a leading cause of death when it comes to vehicle collisions. Practice the art of patience before getting behind the wheel and give yourself enough time to get where you’re going, because speed is a killer on the roads. The numbers paint a grim picture: In Alberta, one in three drivers in fatal car crashes and one in 10 drivers who were injured, were driving at unsafe speeds.
The message is clear: Slow down. Speeding simply isn’t worth it.
Despite hard-hitting MADD campaigns and police outreach program, impaired drivers are still on the roads, both in major and rural areas.
There’s often misconception about what’s considered impairment. Some drivers think that if you’re not over the legal limit, you can’t be charged. The truth is that even one drink can change the way you operate a vehicle. Alcohol isn’t the only vice that can lead to impaired driving. The use of prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs and other mind-altering substances like cocaine and pot will lead to the same sanctions as drunk driving. And those penalties aren’t light: The minimum sentence in Alberta for a first time offence is $1000 and one to three years driving prohibition.
Not Wearing a Seat Belt
“Buckle up” is a cute way of saying a seat belt will save your life. Of all the driving-related deaths in Canada in 2010, 34 per cent of drivers and 40 per cent of passengers weren’t wearing one. The good news is that about 95 per cent of drivers respect the seat belt rule, since the law came into affect in the late 1970s.
Most provinces, except B.C. and Alberta, will issue demerit points for not wearing a seatbelt.
Ignoring Road Signage
Rolling through a stop sign, driving down a one-way street or making a U-turn in a no U-turn zone are decisions a driver makes through habitual and learned behaviour. “Over time you become complacent,” says Const. Clinton Stibbe with Toronto Police. “If you’re comfortable breaking those rules, most people don’t consider it an offence.” And that’s a real problem. Advisory signs, which are black and orange or yellow and black, aren’t mandatory, though all other signage must be abided by.
Police don’t use the term “accidents” when it comes to car crashes. “Collisions are a caused event, where someone has made a mistake,” says Stibbe. “An accident is something that is unavoidable and no matter what couldn’t be avoided.” That means speeding, aggressive lane changes, cutting people off and tailgating are all serious – and dumb – mistakes to make on the road. Careless driving puts the public in danger and that’s a criminal offence. Another thing to keep in mind: When a person dies on the roads as a result of a crash, it costs Canadians $19-million.
Don’t treat your car as a napping pod. Not getting enough sleep before you get behind the wheel is comparable to impaired driving. Research has shown that reaction time, which is a critical skill to driving, is more impaired in patients with untreated sleep apnea than someone’s who’s legally intoxicated. The bottom line is only drive when you’re alert. If you feel like you’re fading, pull over, get some air or find somewhere safe to nap. Don’t rely on coffee to keep you up.
Burned Out Head and Tail Lights
Shine your lights on bright and don’t let them burn out! If you’ve got problems with any of your indicator lights, you’ve got a problem. Not only is it a ticketable offence, it’s also incredibly dangerous. When it comes to a burnt out headlight, it compromises a driver’s view of the roadway in dark or gloomy weather. If it’s a tail light problem, approaching cars have a higher chance of ramming into you. So keep on shining – get those lights fixed the moment they burn out.
Overcrowding the Vehicle
Leave the clown cars for the circus. Piling into a car is not only a bad idea, it’s also illegal: Driving with more people in the car then there is seatbelts is a ticketable offence. Operating an overcrowded car is considered distracted driving, since it gets in the way of the driver’s focus on the roads. It also means some of the passengers won’t have a seatbelt, which can lead to them being launched out the front window. So while it might be a slight inconvenience to split up your clan, just call a cab. It will save you a ticket – and someone’s life.
For more information, visit the Alberta Motor Association’s website.