Occasionally, motorists have found themselves in unpleasant situations involving abusive gestures or language from another driver who takes issue with how they drive. Anxiety and frustration can quickly spark an aggressive or careless driver who tailgates, speeds, fails to yield the right of way among other behaviours.
Don’t be an Aggressive Driver
Aggressive driving behaviour may lead to incidents of road rage where motorists have been threatened and/or subjected to retaliatory actions by angry motorists.
If people drive responsibly they will reduce the chances of conflict on the road and help make our roads safer. Experts recommend the following tips to help avoid road conflicts:
- Plan your route in advance. Some of the most erratic and inconsiderate driving occurs when motorists are lost;
- Make a conscious decision not to take your problems with you when driving;
- Combat the warning signs of stress by getting fresh air and breathing deeply and slowly. Listen to relaxing music;
- Avoid long drives if you can. If you take a long trip, stop every few hours for a rest. Before and during a long drive, avoid heavy meals which tend to make a person lethargic;
- Drive in a courteous and considerate manner. Give way at busy intersections and where traffic lanes merge;
- Don’t compete or retaliate. If someone’s driving annoys you, don’t try to “educate them”. Leave traffic enforcement to the police;
- Don’t take other driver’s mistakes personally;
- Avoid honking your horn unless absolutely necessary and, if you must, tap on it lightly;
- Say, “Sorry” if you make a mistake. An apology can reduce the risk of conflict;
- If you are being physically threatened, stay in your car and lock the doors. If you have a cell phone call the police. Use your horn and lights to attract attention;
- If you think you are being followed, do not drive home. Go to a police station or a busy public place;
- Don’t carry a defensive weapon, it might provoke a potential assailant.
Always Check Your Blind Spot
When driving, keep your eyes constantly moving, scanning the road ahead and to the side. Check your mirrors every five seconds or so. When using mirrors there is an area on each side of your vehicle where you cannot see. You may not see people or vehicles when they are in these spots.
Make sure you see other drivers and they can see you by doing the following:
- keep a clear view when driving. Do not put anything in your windows that will block your view.
- the windows should not be coated with any material that keeps you from seeing out in any direction. Neither should the windshield or front door windows be coated to keep someone from seeing inside the vehicle.
- check and adjust your mirrors and find your blind spots. Check your blind spots by turning your head to look over your shoulder before changing lanes, passing, turning or before opening your door when parked next to traffic.
- when making a lane change, check your mirrors for a space in traffic where you can enter safely. Check your blind spot by looking over your shoulder in the direction of the lane change. Signal when you want to move left or right. Check again to make sure the way is clear and steer gradually into the new lane, maintaining the same speed or gently increase it.
- stay out of other driver’s blind spots, especially large vehicles like trucks.
- take extra care to make sure the way is clear behind you when backing up.
Driving requires your full attention.
Many drivers today tend to view driving, especially in familiar environments, as a simple everyday task that requires minimal attention. In fact, driving is a complex task that requires your full attention every time you get behind the wheel. At the very least you are:
- Operating a heavy piece of machinery at high speed
- Navigating across changing terrain
- Calculating speeds and distances
- Responding to other drivers, signs signals and obstacles around you
The dangers of distracted driving are real and the evidence speaks for itself: drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be in a collision than a driver who is focused on the road. Cell phones and other wireless communication and entertainment devices are a significant visual and cognitive distraction for drivers, with average “eyes off the road” times that increase the risk of collision considerably. At highway speed, a driver sending a simple text message travels the length of a football field without looking at the road.
Driving the Speed Limit
Obey the maximum speed limit posted on signs along our roads and highways, but always drive at a speed that will let you stop safely. As a general rule, drive at the same speed as traffic around you without going over the speed limit.
In cities, towns, villages and built-up areas where there are no posted speed limit signs, the maximum speed is 50 km/h. Elsewhere the maximum speed limit is 80 km/h.
Remember the following when driving:
- Lower your speed in bad weather, in heavy traffic or in a construction zone;
- Slow down when driving at night, especially on unlit roads;
- Follow at a safe distance, at least two seconds behind the vehicle in front of you.
If you are charged for speeding at 50 km/h over the speed limit, police will suspend your licence and impound your vehicle at the roadside.
Penalties for street racing, stunt driving and driving 50 km/h or over the speed limit
- Pre-conviction – Immediate 7-day licence suspension and 7-day vehicle impoundment
- Upon conviction – $2,000 to $10,000 fine, 6 demerit points, up to 6 months jail, up to 2 years licence suspension for a first conviction
- Second offence – Driver licence suspension up to 10 years within 10 years of first conviction
The following demerit point pen alties are assigned to a driver convicted of a speed-related offence. Remember, if you collect enough demerit points, you can lose your driver’s licence.
- 3 points for exceeding the speed limit by 16 to 29 km/h
- 4 points for exceeding the speed limit by 30 to 49 km/h
- 6 points for exceeding the speed limit by 50 km/h or more
Keep in mind to be extra careful when driving through areas where people are working on or near the road. Slow down when approaching work zones and be prepared to stop. Obey all signs and any workers who are directing traffic through the area.
Be patient if traffic is delayed. If your lane is blocked and no one is directing traffic, yield to the driver coming from the opposite direction. When the way is clear, move slowly and carefully around the obstacle.
Road Safety. It starts with you.