According to the SAAQ road report published in June 2023, 392 people lost their lives on the roads in 2022. Over 45% of these deaths occurred among people aged 55 and over. These accidents could have been avoided.
It definitely pays to drive safely! Even though nobody is perfect behind the wheel, there are precautions you can take to avoid bumps in the road. Here are 6 safe driving habits everyone should adopt.
1. Stay focused on the road
Distractions are the cause of 78% of collisions and 65% of near-crashes. Drivers who use their cellphone are four times more likely to be involved in an accident. But there are also other sources of distraction that might make you take your eyes off the road. To avoid putting yourself and others in danger, here are some tips you should consider:
- make it a habit to plan your trip ahead of time and program your GPS before leaving
- keep your cellphone out of sight and put it on silent
- avoid eating or drinking while driving (or wait until you’re stopped at a red light)
- avoid fiddling with the radio, and set the volume at a level where you can still hear your surroundings
2. Stay calm in traffic
More cars on the road and the numerous construction zones can cause traffic jams and delays. After seeing drivers aggressively accelerate, cut others off, and zigzag between lanes, your patience might seriously be put to the test. Keep in mind that staying polite will make your drive more pleasant and help prevent accidents. Try to keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, avoid honking needlessly, use your turn signals to let other drivers know your intentions, and give cyclists and pedestrians ample room. That way, everyone wins!
3. Party responsibly
Spending an evening with friends? Happy hour with coworkers? A nice meal at a restaurant with a few drinks? Whatever the occasion, leave your car at home if you’re going to consume alcohol or cannabis. Take public transit or a taxi, or use a designated driver or a designated driving service if you absolutely need to take your car.
4. Respect the speed limits
Speed is one of the main causes of road accidents. It is recommended to adapt your driving to where you are as well as the road conditions. Take your time and pay attention to your surroundings. That will help you avoid situations where you need to make sudden stops. You’ll also reduce tire wear and save on gas. Win-win!
5. Pull over if you’re feeling sleepy
According to the Canada Safety Council, fatigue is the third most frequent cause of road accidents, after driving under the influence and speed. Make sure you’re well rested before hitting the road. If you start yawning, deviating from your lane, or having trouble keeping your eyes open, you should consider pulling over somewhere safe to rest. Obviously, this also applies to driving at night, which can increase the risk of accidents due to fatigue and reduced visibility.
6. Drop off your passengers in a safe way
Make it a habit to drop off your passengers on the right side of the vehicle, and try to avoid stopping in the middle of a road or double-parking—even for a minute. You can pull over to the side, in a designated “drop-off” zone when possible. Be particularly vigilant when dropping off or picking up your kids at school.
Driving habits don’t change overnight, but these six habits are a good start to staying safe on the roads.