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Make driving safely your number one priority!

May 17, 2011 | Campaigns, National Road Safety Week, Vehicle & Road Safety

Distractions on the road affect everyone. Whether you are a driver, a motorcyclist, a pedestrian, a scooter rider, or a cyclist, distractions on the road is an issue facing all Canadians.

National Road Safety Week kicks off the 2011 safe summer driving season. Make sure to always take precautions while you are out and about. Keep your eyes on the road and on other road users. Be vigilant of your surroundings at all times.

During the spring and summer months it is especially important for drivers to keep their eyes on the road, as vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, etc.) are more prevalent on Canadian roads. These road users have a greater risk of potential injury or death should they become involved in a collision on Canada’s roadways. Vulnerable road users make up approximately 25 per cent of road users killed or seriously injured each year in traffic crashes. In 2008, 559 vulnerable road users were killed and 3,275 were seriously injured.

Drivers must be aware of pedestrians crossing at intersections and people coming out from between parked cars, especially small children. During nighttime hours, pay special attention around restaurants and bars as impaired pedestrians may be unpredictable and come out from unexpected areas.

Drivers must also share the road with cyclists and motorcyclists. If you are distracted by a ringing phone or programming your GPS, it becomes harder to react and avoid potential collisions with vulnerable road users. It is essential to limit your distractions behind the wheel to ensure your safety, as well as the safety of other drivers, and that of vulnerable road users. Distracting activities take your eyes off the road and you are more likely to be involved in a collision.

Many Canadian jurisdictions have banned (or are in the process of passing legislation) the use of all hand-held electronic devices. This law makes it illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, or dial using hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communication and entertainment devices. This includes using GPS, mp3 players (iPods), and entertainment devices with a display screen visible to the driver while he or she is driving. These devices can be used if programmed before starting to drive.

Studies show that a driver using a cell phone is more likely to be involved in a collision than a driver who is focused on the road. Other studies show that dialing and texting carries the highest degree of risk of all cell phone-related activities. A driver is 23 times more likely to get into a collision if they are texting or typing behind the wheel. Text messaging takes driver’s eyes away from the road for 4.6 seconds over a six-second interval. This compares to driving an entire length of a football field without looking at the road while travelling 90 kilometres per/hour.

Here are a few basic safety tips from Canada Safety Council:

  • Drive defensively, and avoid unnecessary distractions.
  • Watch out for other road users who are not paying attention.
  • Keep both hands on the wheel or the handlebars and keep your eyes on the road and always look for potential hazards, especially vulnerable road users.
  • Be prepared for inexperienced and vulnerable road users to appear unexpectedly at both intersection and non-intersection locations, on both urban and rural roadways.
  • Yield to vulnerable road users, even if they don’t have the right-of-way.
  • As a vulnerable road user it is important to be visible and predictable to others.
  • Learn how to program and operate your hands-free device without the need to look at it.
  • Keep conversations brief by telling the caller that you are driving so that you can return your full attention to the task ASAP.
  • Don’t get so wrapped up in conversation that you drift into the other lane. Pull off the road if safe and legal to do so; this is critical if it’s an important or emotional conversation.
  • Turn your phone on silent so you are not tempted to answer it if you receive a call or a message.

Canada Safety Council urges you to always make driving your number one priority. Hands-free is not risk free. The conversation itself could be distracting, giving less attention to the road. Limit distractions to ensure your own safety and the safety of all other road users.

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For more information, please contact:
Raynald Marchand
General Manager – Programs
(613) 739-1535 (ext. 226)

Lewis Smith
Communications and Media Coordinator
(613) 739-1535 (ext. 228)