The summer is a beautiful and convenient time to take a trip across or through Ottawa, but it can also be dangerous even if you’re careful. Fatigue, alcohol and negligent driving are commonly implicated in highway tragedies that occur on Canadian roads during the warmest months of the year. In fact and this may surprise some people that there are more fatalities and accidents on the road during the summer than during wintertime. Whether you’re just passing through Ottawa on your way to elsewhere, or if it is the destination at the end of your trip, we at City Drivers Training in Ottawa, Ontario want to make sure that your drive to the beach or on a week-long road trip is a fun one-and a safe one, too.
It can be easy to put some aspects of safety at the back of your mind when you’re excitedly packing the car for your big summer trip, but it’s important not to forget. Before you venture out onto Canada’s roads in pursuit of fun in the sun, ask yourself the following questions so that you can enjoy your trip as it was meant to be.
- Is my car road-ready?
It is absolutely essential, no matter how far the distance you’re driving, to make sure that your car is fully prepared for the journey ahead. Have your tires recently been serviced? How are all of your fluids? Are any lights damaged or otherwise not working? Are there any larger auto repair that needs to be addressed before the car can be driven safely? This might seem like common sense, as this is all part of regular car maintenance, but it’s easy to forget when your brain’s abuzz with vacation plans.
- Are the right measures being taken to protect all of my passengers?
Seatbelts are critical in any car ride, no matter how long or short. Make sure that your passengers are safely buckled in before you hit the road.
Traveling with children will likely make for some additional measures that need to be taken in order to ensure the safety of everyone in the car. The proper car seat or booster for their age is something that cannot be compromised on or reasoned out of. Especially if you are traveling a longer distance, plan ahead to make more frequent stops for your child passengers.
- How’s my driving?
You need to be able to drive defensively to best ensure the safety of your vehicle and everybody in it. Speeding and aggression on the roads are two hugely contributing factors to highway fatalities, so don’t let yourself get worked up while you’re behind the wheel. If you’re feeling a flash of road rage, take a nearby exit and pull over to collect yourself-or switch drivers, if at all possible. The faster that your car is moving, the more difficult it is to evade potential hazards that can cause an accident.
Don’t ride on another car’s bumper, either. Leave a safe amount of distance between your vehicle and others on the road. This is a good chance to implement the “three second rule.” Add more time to the three second rule if you are driving an especially heavy vehicle, or if weather conditions aren’t favorable.
It is also essential during your trip, just like any other drive, to keep an eye on the actions of others while on the road. No matter how well you prepare yourself, your car and your passengers, you can’t control what other motorists do. Avoid distractions like talking on your cell phone while driving, and absolutely never, ever drive after drinking.
- Should I stop for rest?
Canadian travelers usually have to drive for long distances, and this compels them to drive for long periods of time-even when they are fatigued. Between the body’s natural inclinations to get tired after so long, there are many long stretches of road that can prove monotonous, and that doesn’t help. Make sure to get a good night’s rest the night before your trip begins, and schedule periods to pull over and safely rest during especially lengthy trips.
If you worry that the tedium of driving for so long might be enough to make you feel fatigued, make good use of rest stops along the way. Even a short break to get fresh air and stretch your legs can help a driver to feel invigorated. If possible in your situation, have someone else drive for a while. Alternating who drives prevents any one person from becoming overly tired between you and your destination.
- Will my car be carrying anything heavy?
If you’re hauling a trailer, camper or other large loads of that nature, it is absolutely vital to make sure that your car is properly equipped to handle that kind of work. Check your owner’s manual, or call up the dealership that you purchased the car from if you aren’t sure. Never hook anything up to your car with the intention of hauling it until you are sure that your car can handle it and has the proper equipment to do so safely.
Driving with a large load means that you need significantly more time to stop or pass other vehicles than you would any other time. Keep your distance from other vehicles for this reason, and increase that distance if the weather is inclement. Driving elements like rain can make Canadian roads additionally hazardous, so always anticipate ahead so that you can keep yourself and your passengers safe.
While driving more slowly is certainly the safe thing to do in these cases, please be courteous to your fellow motorists and allow other vehicles to pass you.
- Can I drive while being aware of all others on the road?
During the course of your trip, you will likely share the road with a great number of different types of vehicles. Trucks, cars, trailers, motorcycles and other methods of transportation have every right to share these roads with you, and it is important that you’re aware of that before you head out on your big Canadian road trip. Being aware of the vehicles and-possibly-pedestrians that will share the road with you can help you to prevent accidents before they happen.