Posted by: safedriver | October 19, 2016

Driving in rush hour isn’t that bad

toronto-trafficLike millions of people every day, I have to drive in rush hour traffic. Maybe I’m blessed because I get to do it twice. How lucky am I? Instead of rush hour, I would prefer to drive in rush minute, but that will never happen. I joke because in reality, why get upset about it? It is what it is. Some of us have to spend over an hour to reach our destination in rush hour. It can take a toll on us, but there are things you can do to help keep your stress level down.

The first thing to do to help you keep your sanity is to accept it. You don’t have to like the fact you need to drive in rush hour traffic. You just need to accept it as part of your driving life. Just like driving in snowy weather. I may not like it, but considering where I live, I do accept it.

Let’s face facts, driving in rush hour will mean a lot of stop and go traffic. Remove your distractions within your vehicle before starting your commute. Many drivers will have their coffee with them, so decide when it’s best to have a sip. If all the traffic around you has stopped and so are you, take a quick drink. Tilting your head back while in stop and go traffic may cause you to be late responding to brake lights ahead of you. You should also set up your music ahead of time if that’s what you like to do. It stops you from being distracted while in motion trying to get that good tune. Put your phone on silent and put that away as well. Loose objects can also distract you, so keep those secured as well.

Choosing the lane that will allow you to easily reach your destination is obviously helpful. Plan your route to ensure you’re in that lane soon enough to avoid making last minute lane changes. Many drivers make the error of last minute changes. This adds risk to themselves and other road users. Early lane changes mean less risk of collisions, less stress for you and a calmer driving environment.

Speaking of lane changes, are you the type of driver who tends to weave in and out of traffic, trying to get ahead? It’s not worth it. I see it happen just about every day and I often pass that driver who was trying to get ahead. Stay patient and choose that lane which flows the best. On the expressway, I choose the lane that allows other drivers a safe entry onto the freeway. It helps with the “zipper effect” so traffic can blend in and flow nicely. And avoid tailgating. You need time to see brake lights, time to get your foot from the gas to the brake and time to stop. More about tailgating here.

Drivers make mistakes. I get that. We all make mistakes from time to time. Remember that if a driver cuts you off, they most likely didn’t do it on purpose. Don’t take it personally. They were just trying to do a lane change; maybe to avoid another driver. Perhaps they thought they had more room than they actually had. They weren’t trying to annoy you….as much as you may think they were.

Let’s talk loss of time. There will be slowdowns that aren’t always there each time you make that commute. There may be added road construction or a collision that slows down traffic. Leave early enough that will allow you to reach your destination on time just in case there are slowdowns. If the slowdown causes you to be later than normal, take a deep breath. It’s better to be slightly late than involved in a collision or get a ticket because of aggressive driving. Talk to your employer about making up lost time if that was to happen.

If driving in this traffic isn’t your thing, try alternatives. Use public transit if it’s available. It gives you time to relax before you reach your destination. Another option is to share the drive by carpooling. It can reduce the cost of fuel, maintenance and perhaps parking costs if you share the drive with other people. It can also help reduce your stress level since you get to relax as the passenger from time to time.

Removing this kind of stress can help you make better driving choices, whether you drive in rush hour or rush minute.

Posted by: safedriver | October 15, 2016

What motorcyclists may need…and want

motorcycle-helmet-1Road safety is everyone’s responsibility. It doesn’t matter if you’re a pedestrian, cyclist, motorcyclist or driver of an automobile; it’s your responsibility to perform in such a manner that helps to keep you and others safe. I know; I should tell you something you don’t already know. Although millions if not billions of people know this, they still assume they won’t be injured and take road safety for granted. Are you this type of person? Do you put safety to the wayside?

When it comes to safety, we need to look after ourselves. This is especially true when it comes to motorcycle riders. I’ve written about motorcyclists every now and then, but not for a while. However, I recently found this cool site online called Bike Bandit which made me think about their safety as well. There are many places that offer motorcycle riders options, but check them out. They have everything you can think of – and maybe things you haven’t thought of – to allow a rider to keep their motorcycle in top condition, plus items to help keep them safe as the rider.

They have all the motorcycle gear to help keep you safe while riding it. It almost seems like every day I witness a motorcycle rider wearing just a t-shirt and jeans. That may help them look cool, but it doesn’t protect them in case of a violent swerve where the rider leaves the bike. Road rash is a common injury after a motorcycle crash. Wearing the proper gear will help protect your body. A young friend of mine just got her motorcycle and with it came the gear. Gloves, leather jacket and pants are the normal attire for her, even during the recent hot summer we’ve just had. She knows it can save her from tough injuries.

If you really want to look cool while riding, you should check out their line of motorcycle helmets. Safety-conscious motorcycle riders will wear helmets each time they ride. It’s a no-brainer when it comes to protecting any part of your head. A good helmet can also cut down on any wind noise and on the wind blasting on your face and eyes. Take the time and effort to make a quality decision when choosing a helmet. Look for safety, but keep in mind comfort as well. A comfortable helmet can remove those distractions and allow you to focus on the road.

They also offer a wide range of motorcycle parts and accessories to ensure your motorcycle is running smooth for years to come. A properly running bike will respond to your commands when you need them. Using Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts ensure your motorcycle is running as good as new. Bike Bandit has replacement and OEM parts for just about any bike you may have. OEM parts are designed specifically for your bike and will bring it back to factory condition. You can’t really ask for more than that.

I know there are many places the motorcyclist can go for what they need. This is just an option and based on what some of my motorcycle friends have said, this site is worth a view.

Posted by: safedriver | September 30, 2016

The more you know about Electronic Stability Control…

toyota-escSo much technology has become available for new vehicles with each passing year. In reality, it seems like we’re driving “rolling computers” these days. Understanding what each automotive technology can do for us is important. These modern technologies are designed to keep us safe while we drive. Knowing exactly what these technologies can do for us and how they work is important if we’re going to take advantage of them and not fear them.

One such automotive technology is Electronic Stability Control, or ESC. To some, you may know it as Electronic Stability Program (ESP) or Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), just to name a few. Despite what you may call it, it has a function which could help you keep your vehicle under control. Essentially, ESC will detect if the vehicle is losing traction or steering control during a panic swerve or when driving on a slippery road surface. It will automatically apply braking to individual brakes which will help bring the vehicle safely back in line, without the danger of skidding out of control. ESC will only be activated when it detects a possible loss of steering control, such as when the vehicle is not responding to where the driver is steering toward.

When ESC is activated, braking is automatically applied to individual wheels. When ESC is applied, it will make a noise as if something is broken with your vehicle. Don’t worry though; everything is fine. The outer front wheel has braking applied to counter an oversteer (fish-tailing) and braking will automatically be applied to the inner rear wheel to counter understeer (plowing ahead). Since ESC can apply the brakes to individual wheels, while the driver can only activate brakes to all four wheels at the same time, ESC can recover from potential skids that a driver simply can’t. Some ESC systems may also reduce engine power until control is once again regained. ESC does not improve a vehicle’s cornering ability, so you’ll still need to slow down for the conditions.

This video can explain more;

ESC can be quite effective, but it depends on the amount of traction between the road and the vehicle. For example, if the vehicle has tires without sufficient tread, under inflated tires or tires not designed for the climate, ESC will be less effective compared to a vehicle with proper tires specific to a road conditions. (**Learn more about tires HERE) ESC is built with the aid of the anti-lock brake system (ABS), and all ESC equipped vehicles do include traction control, a secondary function of ESC. Traction control senses when the drive wheels lose traction and begin spinning. When this happens it will often reduce engine power. Traction control may be able to prevent some skids, but it does not provide the same level of safety that ESC does.

**Learn more about Anti-Lock Brake Systems HERE

Despite the fact that ESC can help you maintain control of your vehicle, the best safety feature you have in your vehicle is YOU. ESC won’t keep you out of all collisions. Only you can do that. Drive to the conditions of the road and slow down for corners. See if you can drive in such a manner that ESC doesn’t have to come on. It’ll be worth it.

Posted by: safedriver | September 20, 2016

Traffic getting you down? Get over it

procrastinatingMany people have a morning mentality when it comes to driving. Some of it is good and the others…well, not so good. They wake up, splash some water on their face, get dressed and out the door. Sound familiar? Oh yeah, they grab that all so important first cup of coffee. Let’s face facts; coffee is a food group to many people, especially in the morning. I belong to that club. It’s one of the first things I do when I get up in the morning – thank you coffee; you’re good to me. It seems to be part of my morning mentality. It’s my jump start to the day as it is with many others. Without it, the day may not start off too well.

So how can you survive your morning mentality or perhaps improve on it? Let’s talk about the issues of the morning commute. Too much traffic, not enough time to get to work, maybe not enough coffee and…well…you’re still too tired. You become distracted by your own environment. You may wake up angry or grumpy. Any of these issues can result in a traffic violation, a collision or just a bad start to your day all because you’re not focused on the reality of the driving situations. However, there are solutions for these issues to improve your morning mentality.

The first thing is to learn to accept these issues. There will be days you’ll be late and/or frustrated. Traffic will be slower than normal and other drivers may annoy you. You won’t like it, but you just can’t control every situation. Get over it. Recently I left for work slightly earlier than normal. The roads were clear and there were no traffic reports stating there was a delay on any of the routes I take. However, it took me more than double my normal time to reach my destination. It turns out a vehicle was broken down which blocked one of the access roads. We all had to take our turn to switch lanes to pass that vehicle. Nothing I could do about it but wait my turn. Was I annoyed? Yes, but it was what it was. I got over it.

I often watch drivers weave in and out of traffic trying to get ahead of everyone else during the morning rush, or at least try to save some time. Sorry, but that doesn’t work either. I usually end up passing these same drivers who tried to get ahead of me earlier. I relate this to standing in line at a cashier’s check out. Many time the longer line moves steadiest and quickest. The shortest line may be slower because of the individual in the lead who is holding things up. All I can say here is…patience. Your traffic line will move soon enough.

The further your commute, the greater chance you may be late if there’s a traffic slowdown. We understand that. To allow for enough time to reach your morning destination, check traffic reports well before you leave home. If you find your route is slow, you can leave sooner or choose a different route which may not be blocked. Listen to traffic reports on the radio while driving to find the latest updates of the traffic. These tips may give you an advantage to allow you to reach your destination on time, plus help you stay calm and enjoy the journey. And if you end up late, nothing you could do about it. You tried your best. Now get over it.

**Many more articles which can help you improve your driving mentality are available…just check here and use the search function.

Posted by: safedriver | August 12, 2016

Things drivers do that make you go… hmmm

books.jpgRaising kids has taught me a lot. When my kids were very young they would often do or say things that made me laugh, made me cry and above all, made me think. Relating this to driving, which is something I always tend to do, there are things I see from drivers that make me laugh, make me cry (almost) and especially make me go…hmmm.

It’s no secret drivers get confused or distracted while driving. The latest “Pokémon Go” craze not only has kids walking around the streets with their eyes glued to their phones, but it’s transferring to drivers too. Recently, after 3 o’clock in the morning, a driver was pulled over by police because they were driving erratically. When the officer approached the driver, they were playing Pokémon Go. Seriously? Here’s the article This just makes you want to say… hmmm.

Reading is very good thing to do (especially these articles). Having a place to put your books can seem troubling at times, but leaving them on the back window ledge of your vehicle, as this driver did isn’t the place. Kind of makes you go hmmm. Those items, which are not secured, can become projectiles if the driver suddenly stops or has to make a quick turn. Those items can easily fly off the ledge and into the head of passengers. If you like to read and find time sitting in your parked vehicle, keep the books secured…such as in the trunk.

Keeping your passengers relaxed as you drive is a good thing. It’s important they have confidence in your abilities as a driver. However, I seem to see more front seat passengers place their feet up on the dashboard as the vehicle travels along the road. Any idea what type of injuries the passenger could receive if an airbag went off? Take a look at this and tell me if it’s okay to do this; Kind of makes you want to go…hmmm.

IMG-20120924-00347Then there was the passenger who left their food on the roof of the vehicle. Hmmm. It was in a take-out container. They were driving behind me so at the red light I quickly got out of my vehicle and told them they left their food on the roof. A little embarrassed, but none-the-less the passenger got out and removed their food. No one really likes tossing their lunch, right? Hmmm.

These are just a few things that made me go…hmmm. I know life keeps us busy and we lose focus from time to time, but driving safely deserves our focus. You owe it to yourself, your family…and to your passengers to stay focused and be a safe driver.

Posted by: safedriver | July 20, 2016

I used to be indecisive, but now I’m not sure

IMG-20111117-00157Life throws us a lot of choices. Too many sometimes. We often can’t decide what to do, where to go, who to be with, etc. Driving itself has so many decisions each and every time we get behind the wheel it’s no wonder people get confused. To many people, multiple choices can lead to anxiety. This anxiety will quite often will lead to poor decision-making. However, there are solutions.

Recently I watched how a driver hesitated many times during their travels. It seemed at first like they were unsure of where they were going, but after that it just seemed as if they were just indecisive. Should they go or should they wait…is it safe to go…which way should they go…and so on. Indecision is often related to lack of self-confidence and a tendency to worry about potential problems. So how can someone who is so indecisive while driving improve? Here are a few ideas.

The first is to plan your route. Know exactly where you’re going. The ability to make decisions means that you must be able to see into the future. You need to see the implications of each of your possible actions. Planning your route means that you have to visualize where there will be the most traffic or how you can possibly avoid the most crowded roads or difficult turns. Planning your route also means where to go if there is a detour. Have an alternate plan.

If you’re going to place you haven’t been to before, know the name of the street just before the street you need to turn at so you know your turn is coming up. Also, if you know you have to make a left turn, ensure you’re in the correct lane well in advance. How many times have you seen drivers attempting a left turn from the right lane because they’re about to miss their turn? Instead of panicking and doing that make the next 3 right turns and go around the block. Once you’ve corrected the error, ignore it and move on.

Looking ahead – well ahead – will also give you more time to make decisions based on the traffic patterns and possible road construction. Those who look just a couple of vehicles ahead have less time to make choices. They often panic and make risky decisions. Looking to where you think you’ll be in at least the next 12 to 15 seconds in the city will often give you more time to see, think and decide what to do next.

Turn off as many of your distractions as possible. Focus on one thing – your driving – and that may help alleviate the anxiety. If a distraction causes a missed turn or lack of focus, pull over and take a break to gather up your thoughts. Once you’ve dealt with that, let it go. Consider that mini problem over and move on.

And finally, have confidence in yourself and your abilities. Be honest with yourself. Saying you’re confident to others when down deep you know you’re not is only asking for trouble. If you’re having trouble with something which often causes indecision, ask a professional for advice. I often get emails here asking for advice and I’m good with that. It’s what I do. That’s the decision I’ve made and I think it’s a good one.

**If you like this article, please help support the effort of a new website for safer roads. Support HERE

Posted by: safedriver | July 5, 2016

A summer survival kit every driver should have

breakdownResponding early to situations is far better than responding suddenly because if you don’t…well…it doesn’t always turn out so well. I often discuss being prepared for a winter breakdowns and having a winter driving survival kit prepared, but what about having a summer driving survival kit prepared? Is there really a need for one?

When we think of a vehicle survival kit it’s often about being stuck in snow or having your vehicle broken down in bad weather, but there’s more to it than that. Having a few items in your vehicle can help you and your passengers survive, including in the best of weather situations. The first thing perhaps is having a roadside assistance membership. It can become a valuable asset.

Many drivers won’t think of having a vehicle breakdown or being stranded but it does happen. Sitting on the shoulder of the freeway/highway isn’t as safe as you may think. This explains HERE. Many decades ago when I was in my early 20’s while I was returning home from camping, my camper trailer got a flat tire. I didn’t have a spare for the trailer and nothing to help. I ended up leaving the trailer on the side of the highway, driving to the closest service area, getting another tire and returning to change it. All those lost hours would have been avoided if I was ready for it. I’m ready now, are you? Let’s get started.

Just like the winter kit, you need a place to put these items. A medium sized plastic bin with a lid or a good size duffle bag is a good place to start. It won’t take up a lot of room in your vehicle but it’s good to know it will be there if/when you need it. To start with, reflective triangles or flares come in handy if you need to communicate to other traffic to go around your disabled vehicle.

Besides those items, here’s a few things that can be placed in the bin or duffle bag; sunscreen, umbrella/rain jacket, up-to-date first-aid kit, flashlight with batteries outside of the flashlight (so they won’t leak into the flashlight causing the flashlight to be useless), booster cables, tire pressure gauge, tire pump, tire sealant (for those moments when you run over a nail and need to pump up the tire to get to a repair shop), small tool kit (pliers, screwdrivers, wrenches), duct tape, a couple of rags, jug of washer fluid, jug of water or engine coolant, blanket, hat with a brim, extra sunglasses, phone charger, fresh water bottle, snacks (granola bars, nuts, dried fruit) and bug spray.

When our windows are open the risk increases for insects to fly into the vehicle. This would include bees and wasps or anything else within your jurisdiction which may make it inside your vehicle. If you’re stung by a bee or a wasp and you’re allergic, ensure you have the proper medication prescribed to you with you. If you’re not allergic, you may need something to pull the stinger out. You can use a bank card or credit card. A cold compress should come next and apply it every 20 minutes. If it’s still painful you can take something for the pain, but ensure you’re fit to drive before you drive away again.

Preparing to drive in summer takes as much effort as it does to prepare to drive in winter. Our survival kits may look different, but they both serve the same purpose – to help us survive comfortably until help arrives. Oh yeah, one more important item to help us survive if you’re stranded during the summer – toilet paper…because even though you’re stranded, sometimes you still need to go.

**If you like this article, please help support the effort of a new website for safer roads. Support HERE

Posted by: safedriver | June 14, 2016

Being reliable takes effort

truckReliability; we want it in our lives. Whether it’s in a life partner, a job, an employee or a vehicle, we rely on people and things to get us through our days, weeks, months and years. But what happens when they aren’t reliable? Some people get annoyed. Some others look for a replacement. Regardless of what or who you want reliable, it’s a team effort. Let’s talk vehicle.

Having a reliable vehicle is something many people take for granted. They get into the vehicle, start the engine and expect everything to be working as it should. In real life we know that doesn’t always happen. For many people, if your vehicle doesn’t work well enough to ensure its safe to drive, we can take it in the repair shop and get a ride to work. No problem really. But what happens when you need your vehicle for work? When do you take it in to be repaired? What could possibly go wrong if you continued to drive it when it wasn’t mechanically fit? Lots.

To the average driver, how often do you take your vehicle in for service? Do you wait until there’s a problem or do you take it for regular intervals? Recently I was an observer as commercial vehicles were brought in for a routine inspection. Many of these vehicles passed the surprise inspection, but others did not. Some of the violations the inspectors found were not having an annual vehicle safety done, overweight loads, broken leaf springs and one of the biggies – ruptured brake lines. All of these infractions can lead to a collision and possible injuries… or worse.

Proactive maintenance is always a good thing. Take a look at this vehicle with a broken brake line. Better to have found it now than after it completely leaked out.

While I was there I overheard an employee speaking freely to his employer about other company vehicles in their fleet which may need repairs. If you’re an employer or a fleet manager, it’s a good idea to listen to your employees. No one really wants to spend money they don’t need to spend, but spending a little money now for proactive repairs is far greater than spending a lot of money later…such as fines, major repairs, collisions, lawsuits, etc.

Regardless of whether you drive your vehicle to earn employment, to get to your employment or just for pleasure, you want your vehicle to be reliable. To help it remain reliable make the effort to look after it. It could cost you a lot more… than money.

Posted by: safedriver | June 7, 2016

Reducing distracted driving…that works for me

SHARK 1As many people already know, I promote road safety all the time. Well, maybe not all the time. I do need to sleep a few hours a day, but other than that it really does seem like it’s all the time. Through verbal discussion, print, radio or television – it’s what I love to do. Every now and then I come across an opportunity to test new things to see if they can make a difference in road safety. I was fortunate to try something new recently and I think it may make a difference when it comes to reducing distracted driving.

There are so many things that may distract us while driving; we already know that. However, with the human factor weighing so much pressure on us, we often need help to stop the distractions. For those of us who can self-govern it’s not too much of an issue. I can keep my mind on driving and ignore most distractions, despite what I may be faced with. For those who need some help, luckily there is support out there to help you stay focused while driving and remove the distractions.

I was recently introduced to a product called the SHARK from a company called InCarBite It’s a wireless phone charger that places the phone out of sight to the driver. Remember the old saying of ‘out of sight, out of mind’? This device may fall under that category and may be able to help drivers avoid the distractions of their phones while driving and stay focused on the driving task.

To be honest, I was curious how this product could help reduce distracted driving. After all, it was only a phone charger, right? After using it for a while, I did find the SHARK allowed me to forget about the phone. I forgot about it so much I left it in my vehicle a few times after parking. Although I normally ignore my phone while driving, I could see the benefits of removing the phone from the driver’s view while driving.

To add to this, I also use an app on my phone that stops any notifications I would normally get for emails or text messages. Combined, these two devices can stop the urge to check the phone while driving. And let’s face it; some people need the added help to stop distracted driving. And maybe, just maybe, the SHARK can help them accomplish that goal.

For many drivers, the temptation of constantly checking the phone is always on their mind. The phone will often sit loose on the seat or near the middle console and with it in clear view, will often make its way into the hands of the driver. They see it and want to check messages, despite the fact they know it’s dangerous and illegal in so many jurisdictions. Checking the phone has really turned into an addiction for many people, but that could possibly stop with the SHARK and that works for me.

To those who leave their phone in a backpack, purse or jacket, that’s a good idea and I applaud you. Will I promote the SHARK? Yes, but not just as a phone charger. It’s a step in the right direction to reduce distracted driving…and that works for me.

**If you like this article, please help support the effort of a new website for safer roads. Support HERE

Posted by: safedriver | May 17, 2016

Let the countdown begin

IMG_20160517_081009Think back to when you were a kid. You were taught over and over again how to safely cross the street. As we got older and had kids of our own, we taught them the same things. We wanted to be good pedestrians and for that matter, safe pedestrians. Once we began to drive we used the same knowledge from being a pedestrian to become a driver, but was that really a good idea?

For years many drivers often relied upon the crosswalk lights to let them as drivers know if the traffic light was about to change. Not really a good idea. The pedestrian crosswalk light is for the pedestrians; not the drivers of vehicles. I would often see drivers I’m training reducing their speed just because the “don’t walk” hand was flashing. Umm, that light is letting pedestrians know they shouldn’t attempt to cross the road if they haven’t already started. Oh, and by the way, while the “don’t walk” light is flashing, the traffic light is still green. So in reality you’re slowing down for a green light. Sounds silly now doesn’t it?

With many jurisdictions now using “countdown lights” to let pedestrians know how much time they have to clear the crosswalk and perhaps even letting pedestrians decide not to enter the crosswalk at all. These countdown lights are helping reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities in many jurisdictions. However, many drivers are using that same technology to help them determine if they have time to clear the intersection. But that may be a whole other wrong.

IMG_20160517_081016To avoid getting a ticket for running a red light, many drivers are hitting the gas to help them clear the intersection before the traffic light changes from green to yellow (amber). However those actions can affect other drivers who may be turning left across their path. It can create a collision or close call to say the least because the gap they thought was large enough to turn through has gotten smaller much quicker. Besides, speeding up to “make the light” is never worth it as the time you would save is never enough. If drivers are accelerating toward an intersection because of what the numbers show them, they will have less time to take corrective action to avoid a pedestrian, and have less control of their vehicle.

The other problem that I’ve seen are when drivers slow down thinking they don’t have enough time to get through the intersection. Again; slowing down for a green light for no apparent reason is never a good idea. It confuses the drivers in the opposite direction who may want to turn across your path. It can also frustrate the drivers behind. Here’s a few other thoughts;

So here’s the plan; let pedestrians use the crosswalk symbols and countdown numbers for their purpose and you as a driver use the traffic lights for your purpose. Look ahead and make the decision whether to stop or proceed if the light changes from green before it changes. If you need a little more help to determine if you should stop or not if the green light changes, this will help you instead of a few numbers in the crosswalk.

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