The Driver Guy

A blog about defensive driving on mostdays or other topics of interest on others.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Ottawa, Ontario - Young Drivers of Canada has announced that December 1 to 7, 2006 is its annual Safe Driving Week, and offers defensive driving tips. Transport Canada reports that November and December produce the highest casualty collisions resulting in injuries and fatalities, and then drops in the January to April months.

The tips include:

Driver fatigue: Driving when you are tired is very dangerous, and reduces your ability to drive effectively. If you are traveling a long distance, stop at least every two hours to take a break.

Essential items: carry a long-handled scraper and snow brush, windshield washer fluid, booster cables, reflective cones, flashlight, first-aid kit, blanket, and kitty litter for traction on ice.

Tires: Snow tires on all four wheels will provide better traction and control. Check tire pressure at least once a month.

Look well ahead: Look ahead a minimum of 12 to 15 seconds in snowy conditions. Change lanes early and smoothly, and keep moving.

Mirror usage: Check your mirrors every five to eight seconds, so that you can see a rear-end collision taking shape behind you. Do you leave enough space in front of you at an intersection so you can pull forward out of trouble, and have you got an escape route planned if you need it?

Maintaining control: If you start to lose control, shift into neutral (or put in the clutch on a standard transmission), take your foot off the gas, then look and steer as gently as possible in the direction you want to go.

Lights on: Most automatic headlight systems and daytime running lights do not activate the rear lights during daylight. Turn on your low beam headlights regardless of the time of day.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Some around town driving tips:
Avoid making left hand turns across busy intersections that don't have turn signals. It takes a while to learn how to gage the oncoming traffic. Better to go down a block or two until you come to a light, or plan a route that doesn't need this turn.
Don't make assumptions about what other drivers are going to do. The only thing you can assume about another driver with a turn signal on is that he has a turn signal on. He might not be turning at all and forgot to turn it off the last time he used it or has changed his mind.
When there's an obstruction in your lane, wait for oncoming traffic to clear before you pull around. Just because someone's blocking your lane doesn't mean you have the right of way in the next or oncoming lane.
Watch out for aggressive drivers and try to stay out of their way. They are the cause of a lot of collisions--especially on the beltways.
Watch out for anything that is connected to the U.S. Mail. (This tip submitted by someone who has had run-ins with a mailbox and a mail delivery station wagon, and a fender bender in front of the post office.)
Don't do anything that will cause another car's driver to slam on the brakes such as pulling out in front of him or swerving into his lane. Wait for good space before entering traffic.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Some around school driving tips. Parents should go to the high school parking lots and watch their little angels with the family car.

Get to school five to ten minutes early and leave five minutes late to avoid the mad dash into and out from the parking lots. Many accidents happen when kids are rushing around.
If your school lot has perpendicular spaces (not angle parking), park in a space you can pull straight out of instead of having to back out. Backing out in crowed lots is tricky. Also, the Key Driving School has written me that pulling straight through a parking space is illegal in some states--so check your local traffic laws before using this tip.
Watch for kids getting on and off school buses--and don't run into the school buses, either.
Go slow
Don't leave valuables like wallets, shoes, leather jackets or sports equipment in your cars where they can be seen because they invite break-ins.
Always stop for school buses with flashing lights. The flashing lights mean that students are either getting on or off the bus--and may be crossing the street. Their safety depends on cars obeying this law.
Don't park in fire lanes around the school. Not only will you probably get a ticket, but you could be blocking the area where a fire truck needs to park in case of an emergency.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

What do you feel is the number 1 safety device in your car? ABS?, ESC?, all wheel drive?, seatbelts? Certainly these are all important features. I consider some of them to be a must when I am looking for a vehicle. Really though, the most important safety feature is the driver. Without effective seeing habits and early responding to problems even a vehicle that is equipped with every available safety device is still going to crash. Go to any auto recylcer and you will see brand new vehicles that were equipped with the latest technology sitting there smashed to bits. The car cannot see a potential crash situation developing, only the driver can do that. And only if we are paying attention and have space available to move into can we hope to remain collision free.

Unfortunately, most government road tests only assess the BASIC skill level of the driver. After passing these tests most of us fail to drive defensively and proceed to develop some poor driving habits. Maybe we all need a refresher course every five to ten years to stay fresh. Your insurance company should be promoting just such a course. Why wait until something bad happens? Be proactive and take a defensive driving course NOW. Talk to people who have taken a defensive driving course. Did it help them? God, can it hurt? And this should be a defensive driving course that INCLUDES actual driving time with a qualified instructor to help assess and improve your driving skills.

Good luck, and please drive defensively.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Would a person try to learn to play the piano or to play golf in a week. I can hear them now. " Thanks a lot, I think I've got it and I have a concert next week". I don't think so. We routinely have people come to our driving course and be in a big hurry to complete their lessons in a very short period of time, go for a government road test and have a licence. A lot of the time we accomodate them as they are paying customers. Even parents pressure us to get their kid done so " we can just get this over with!!" Great attitude. I think with spaced lessons, one on one with a professional, annually re-trained instructor, and co driver support at home, we can produce competent drivers that we feel good about sharing the road with.

Some of my internet searches have come across so called professional driver training that gives novice drivers one day of closed course instruction on topics like high speed driving and skid control. They would then have us believe that these drivers are now ready for anything that happens in the real world. I wonder what the first thing a driver who takes this training is going to show their friends. "Hey, look what I learned the other day!!" Then they are empowered by their "knowledge" and show this off to their friends. A lot of these driving schools use the word accident on their web sites. As previously stated on this blog, the word collision would be a more appropriate choice.

When choosing a driver training program, do your homework, as they are not all created equal. More on this next time.

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Good day.

I'm wondering if people who are sixteen are mature enough to have a licence. This is an age old question. Why is sixteen the magic age? I do not even know. Every few years there is talk of raising the driving age. However, does this solve anything?Or are we just postponing the availability of experience. One of the main reasons new drivers crash more is that they do not have enough experience. This is true at any age. I do feel that new drivers who are older have more respect for driving and understand the consquences or their actions more tha their younger counterparts. Maybe we could devise a personality type of test that would show us if someone is indeed mature enough to even attempt their test. Surely such a test already exists.

When I start a new course, I now have to practically read the riot act to get the class to pay attention and to take things seriously. And I still have to continually ask people to pay attention, to not be talking to the person next to them etc. I feel part of the problem is that the course is usually paid for by a parent. The students themselves do not have a vested interest in their success. In a lot of cases insurance is paid for by the parents as well as gas!! I'm told stories of people who crash or get a ticket and the parents continue to give their new driver the car. Wow, what a great message to send.

Again, if we work together, ask our new drivers questions to try and feel them out in regards to certain situations maybe we can help keep them in one piece until they do start to understand the consequences of their actions. Maybe.