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.
ICBC’s top tips for a safe long weekend road trip

ICBC’s top tips for a safe long weekend road trip

As drivers hit the road this Victoria Day long weekend, police will be conducting a province-wide enforcement blitz to target speeders as part of a month-long campaign.

Over the Victoria Day long weekend, 540 people were injured in 2,300 crashes in B.C. in 2017.*

In a recent survey conducted by Ipsos for ICBC (April 2019), almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of respondents said they’ve been concerned for their safety as a passenger in a vehicle they considered to be speeding. And as drivers, 46 per cent said their top concern of possible consequences from speeding was injuring a passenger.

With speed the number one cause of car crash fatalities in B.C., it’s no wonder people are concerned. As you’re traveling with family and friends this long weekend, remember to slow down and speak up if you feel uncomfortable.

Speeding increases your risk of crashing. That’s why ICBC, police and Speed Watch volunteers are urging drivers to slow down. When you slow down, you see more of the road and have more time to react.

ICBC’s top tips for a safe long weekend road trip:

  • Plan your route and check road conditions at drivebc.ca before you leave.

  • Don’t speed up as someone is trying to pass you. Help the other driver get back into your lane by slowing down and making room.

  • Be realistic about travel times. Don’t rush to make up time – slow down to reduce your risk of crashing and arrive at your destination safely.

  • Make a game of looking for motorcycles. Have each passenger guess how many motorcycles you’ll see during the drive and then count them as you go. It’s a great way to teach young drivers to look for motorcyclists.

  • Stay focused and avoid distractions that take your mind off driving and your eyes off the road. Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of crashes so remember to leave your phone alone.

Regional statistics*:

  • Over the Victoria Day long weekend, 390 people were injured in 1,500 crashes throughout the Lower Mainland in 2017.

  • Over the Victoria Day long weekend, 61 people were injured in 352 crashes on Vancouver Island in 2017.

  • Over the Victoria Day long weekend, 69 people were injured in 350 crashes throughout the Southern Interior in 2017.

  • Over the Victoria Day long weekend, 16 people were injured in 120 crashes throughout the North Central region in 2017.

*Victoria Day long weekend is calculated from 18:00 the Friday prior to Victoria Day to midnight Monday. Injured victims and crashes from 2017 ICBC data.

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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