Ignoring Your Own Safety #DriveSmartBC

 

SeatbeltWhen I learned to drive more than 4 decades ago, seatbelts were becoming standard equipment on all vehicles. Fast forward to today and we have seatbelts, multiple airbags and a host of automatic systems designed to either avoid a crash or minimize the damage to us if we are in one. Why then do some of us ignore the systems that are there for our protection?

A decade ago seatbelt use rates were about 97% for drivers of cars or light trucks in B.C. according to Transport Canada. That said, one does not have to sit for very long today watching traffic pass in urban areas to find drivers who do not buckle up. Why ignore what is probably the simplest and most effective device in your vehicle that helps you avoid injury?

Have you read your vehicle’s owners manual to learn about airbags and how they protect you in a collision? If you have you will realize that you must wear your seatbelt to avoid injury caused by being out of place if it deploys. You must also sit upright in your seat when the vehicle is being driven.

Yesterday I was filling my fuel tank and watching the passenger in the vehicle beside me. She had her feet up on the dash and remained that way when her friend finished fueling and drove away. I shudder to think of what would happen to her if that airbag deployed.

If you buy a new vehicle today you will find that it can be equipped with many safety systems such as automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning. Remember that owners manual? There will be some study required to learn how they work, how you should use them and when they cannot protect you.

The sensors for these systems require regular maintenance by the driver to keep them functional. Be sure to read your owners manual or at least have the dealership demonstrate what needs to be done before you drive off the lot.

Vehicle computers store data about faults. If fault codes are stored for malfunctioning safety systems it is conceivable that you could bear some responsibility for injuries sustained in a crash. Ignoring these new safety systems could also place you in a bad position post-collision.

Ignoring your own safety as a driver today may have many unintended consequences that can also extend to your passengers. RTFM (Refer to Factory Manual) might be the smartest (and safest) thing that you can do!

If you drive distracted, you could miss out on life

If you drive distracted, you could miss out on life

SGI launches campaign with a clear message: “Distracted driving kills”

Kailynn Bursic-Panchuk was preoccupied with her cellphone when she drove into the path of a train; the resulting collision was catastrophic and left the Weyburn teenager in critical condition.

Kailynn’s tragic story is a part of SGI’s latest distracted driving awareness campaign that launches this weekend, coinciding with the June Traffic Safety Spotlight on distracted driving.

“When we got to the hospital and the doctor told me Kailynn needed surgery to relieve the pressure on her brain, I was lost. This is supposed to happen in movies, not in real life,” said Kailynn’s mom, Sandra LaRose.

Kailynn’s injuries would prove fatal – five days later her family made the difficult decision to take her off life support. Kailynn had just turned 17 years old.

SGI’s poignant campaign has a clear message: distracted driving kills – don’t miss out on life. The campaign features a 60-second video that shows a young woman dreaming of her life ahead and milestone moments. Those dreams are followed by the nightmare of a head-on collision caused by a distracted driver. Kailynn’s photo and a brief narration by LaRose conclude the video.

“I hope this province-wide campaign will help make the consequences of distracted driving more real to people,” said Minister Responsible for SGI Joe Hargrave. “I am grateful to Sandra for sharing her voice and her daughter’s tragic story, and hopeful it will encourage people to avoid all distractions while they drive, including their phones. There should never be another story like Kailynn’s.”

The ad will run online, in cinemas and on television. The campaign will also feature newspaper, radio and billboard advertising. Beginning in July, there will be shorter online videos focusing on common distracted driving behaviours, along with matching radio spots that will run all year. Visit www.sgi.sk.ca/distracted-driving-kills to see the campaign.

For Sandra LaRose, the tragic, preventable death of her daughter has spurred her to speak out about the issue of distracted driving.

“Hopefully people will realize that phone call is not important, that notification is not important, that music is not important; it will wait,” said LaRose. “Life will still go on if you don’t take that call. It’s literally a split second – that’s all it takes. You have control over that object – put your phone away.”

Driver distraction or inattention is the leading cause of collisions and injury on Saskatchewan roads, and one of the leading factors in fatal collisions. In 2017, 26 people died and 953 were injured in distracted driving collisions in Saskatchewan.

 

Have an a – May-zing – and safe – long weekend with SGI’s road trip tips

Have an a – May-zing – and safe – long weekend with SGI’s road trip tips

May long weekend is almost here and you know what that means – commence Summer Mode.

Okay, yes, we know summer officially starts next month, but we only get a few weeks of really fine weather, and as far as we’re concerned, summer is a state of mind.

Summer Mode means cleaning the house takes a backseat to chilling on the deck.  Pressing pause on the diet, because a chicken breast on spinach can’t compare to a barbecued burger with a side of potato salad.

While everything feels a little more relaxed in the summer, what remains the same are your responsibilities behind the wheel. Highways get busy on long weekends, and the chance of a collision doubles.

Some things to keep in mind if your May Long plans involve driving:

Don’t drive impaired – Whether you’re headed out to the lake for the first time this year, or just having a couple of drinks now that your local spot’s patio is open, make sure you plan a safe, sober ride home. Don’t let one bad decision change your life forever. And, be a good wingman for your friends and family – make sure they make it home safe too.

Don’t speed – The summer has just begun, so no need to speed – we’re relaxing, remember? If you speed, you could face fines, demerits, impoundments, and even criminal charges depending on the severity of the offence. Obey the posted speed limits, and enjoy the drive. Let’s not make May Madness a thing, okay?

Avoid distractions – Now that you’re in Summer Mode, it’s time for new summer jams. But, create your new road tripping playlist before you head out – or hey, maybe let your co-pilot pick a song every once in a while. The road needs your full attention, so leave your phone alone. Police are looking for distracted drivers, and a $280 fine and 4 demerits will really put a damper on your road-karaoke session.

#EmbraceTheZipperMerge – If your route takes you through a construction zone, reduce your speed to the posted speed limits (60 km/h on the highway), and use the zipper merge  to handle lane closures. Zipper merging allows drivers to use both lanes until the closing lane ends, then alternate in a ‘zipper’ fashion into the open lane, making traffic flow more quickly and efficiently. Still not sure how to zipper merge?  Check out the handy video on this page. (When a driver lets you in, don’t forget your courtesy wave.)

Buckle up – Always wear a seatbelt and make sure your passengers do too. You’re 17 times more likely to be ejected from your vehicle in a collision if you’re not wearing a seatbelt and you’re more than twice as likely to die if you’re ejected. If that doesn’t make it click for you, maybe this real-life account from seatbelt survivor Josh Campbell will.

Stay alert – All those summer plans can seem like a lot after a winter of hibernation. Make sure you’re well-rested before hitting the road, and split the driving with other passengers if your travels take you far.

Bonus tip: For some folks, Summer Mode means pulling out their motorcycle. If you’re riding, wear the proper gear to save your skin, and watch for potholes and loose gravel.  Drivers, share the road with motorcycles and check twice before changing lanes or turning – once for cars and trucks, then again for motorcycles and bikes.

From all of us at SGI, enjoy your long weekend. And take care out there.

Road Trip Checklist For This Long Weekend

Road Trip Checklist For This Long Weekend

By Jeff Youngs | JD Powers

Before setting off on a road trip, it is important to make sure that your vehicle is ready for a long journey, especially if your route passes through lightly populated areas off of the Interstate. Checking your vehicle’s basic functions and systems before departure can help to ensure a safe and smooth road trip.

  • Check the brakes. Your vehicle’s brakes are a critical component for any drive, whether heading across town or across the country. Make sure your car’s brakes are in good condition before your trip.
  • Check the tires. In addition to making sure you have a spare tire with you (unless your car has run-flat tires), be sure to inflate all tires, including the spare, to the recommended tire pressure before departure. Also, check for uneven tread wear, which indicates that an alignment or replacement tires might be necessary.
  • Check the lights and signals. Make sure your headlights, tail lights, brake lights and turn signals work properly.
  • Check the wiper blades and washer fluid. A new set of wiper blades is a good investment before any road trip. Also, be sure to top off your washer fluid before hitting the highway.
  • Check the engine coolant. If your engine coolant is old, it’s a good idea to replace it with new coolant. Be sure that your car is ready for extreme heat or extreme cold, depending on where you’re going and the time of year.
  • Check the fans, belts and hoses. Your car’s engine fan, belts and hoses are critical for engine cooling, so be sure they’re in good condition before your trip.
  • Check the battery. It’s easy to have your battery tested to make sure it’s ready for a road trip. If your battery is more than 3 years old, get it checked before departure.
  • Check the fluids. Make sure your car’s fluids are in good condition and are topped off. This includes the oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and the power steering fluid.
  • Bring basic tools. Make sure all of your vehicle’s tire-change tools are present and accounted for. Additionally, it’s not a bad idea to bring a basic set of tools that could help fix a minor problem during the trip.
  • Bring emergency provisions. Even if you perform every task on this road trip checklist, you could become stranded with a disabled vehicle. You will want to have emergency provisions aboard just in case this happens. Food and water are critical, but depending on the weather, you will also want appropriate clothing and accessories, like sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat for hot sunny areas or a blanket for cold regions.

Road fatalities down significantly on OPP patrolled roads this year

Fatalities are down significantly this year on roads patrolled by Ontario Provincial Police, the force said Wednesday amid a cross-country traffic enforcement blitz.

The OPP said 58 people died on roads from Jan. 1 to May 5, compared to 97 road fatalities during the same time period last year  a 40 per cent decrease.

“We’d like to attribute it to people’s good driving behaviour and maybe we’ve changed some of that driving behaviour with our enforcement initiatives, but one poor weekend of fatal crashes, we can stack that number up pretty quick,” said Sgt. Jason Folz.

“It’s difficult to pinpoint the actual reason, the numbers are the numbers.”

The OPP said 45 per cent of fatalities so far this year are linked to speed, alcohol/drugs, distracted driving and lack of seat belt use the so-called  “big four.”

Last year, about 53 per cent of road deaths were linked to the big four.

“Until that number is zero, we’ve got work to do,” Folz said.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police is currently co-ordinating Canada Road Safety Week, a national campaign that began Tuesday and runs through long weekend.

Police officers across the country will be out in full force focusing on the big four, the association said.

There were 1,841 vehicle fatalities across the country in 2017, according to the latest data published by Transport Canada. That is a sizable decrease from a 20-year high of 2,980 fatalities in 1999.

“Canada Road Safety Week is an effective traffic enforcement initiative, however it is only part of the solution to saving lives. It is important that everyone take responsibility to ensure safety on our roads,” said OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique.

Folz said the force was hoping motorists would be careful on the roads over the upcoming long weekend.

“Our highways will be full come the long weekend,” he said.  “It will be a busy time, so be safe.”

Where Are the Corners of Your Vehicle?

The RCMP’s advanced driver training course was without a doubt the most fun of any course many of the participants had taken in their service. We used an inactive runway at the Boundary Bay airport in Delta and a collection of well used Crown Victoria police interceptors to polish our driving skills. Contrary to what you might think, this was not a high-speed driving situation as we never got going faster than about 65 km/h.

What the majority of the course taught us was to be aware of the location of all four corners of our vehicles in relation to everything around us on the track.

From stall parking, backing through a slalom to the collection of curves, straights and sharp angles of the circuit, the object was to never touch one of the traffic cones that marked the edges and obstacles. Knock one over and you could lose so many points that your score would not be enough to pass.

In the circuit, we were expected to drive as fast as we were able to in addition to leaving all the cones alone. We also learned that if you spun your tires after receiving the “go” signal, you lost valuable time.

The road that leads to my home is a winding one and there are two sets of reversing curves where I seem to be meeting more drivers on the wrong side of the double solid center line lately. The worn condition of the center and shoulder lines at these corners indicate that this occurs frequently.

Surprisingly, our provincial driving manuals don’t have a lot to say about maintaining your lane position. The one piece of advice that I could find says:

The first thing you may notice as you begin driving in moderate traffic is that you have to stay in the centre of your lane. To start with, this is no easy task. The magic rule: look the way you want to go. If you keep looking 12 seconds ahead down the centre of the lane, your peripheral vision will help you centre yourself.

They do have more to say about another spot where lane discipline commonly breaks down, turning at intersections. Drivers are cautioned not to cut the corner or swing wide on turns.

The last bad habit to mention is driving with the right side tires to the right of the single solid line. In other words, driving on the shoulder. Along with all of the other behaviours mentioned, this is illegal.

One might think that if there are no lines painted on the road, it is not necessary to maintain proper lane position. This is not true either. A driver in this situation must still judge where the center of the road is and travel in the right-hand half.

Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret.) runs DriveSmartBC, a community web site about traffic safety in British Columbia. For 25 years he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including five years on general duty, 20 in traffic and 10 as a collision analyst responsible of conducting technical investigations of collisions. He retired from policing in 2006 but continues to be active in traffic safety through the DriveSmartBC web site, teaching seminars and contributing content to newspapers and web sites.

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