Posted by: safedriver | June 30, 2015

Which month has the most vehicle crashes?

128d3f654d919d62247603ebcbceFor years I would ask the question to drivers; which month of the year has the most vehicle crashes? Typically I would get December, January or February. But that’s not the case. Do you have any idea which month has the most crashes?

How does July sound? After revealing the answer, I would often see a surprised look on their faces. You also may be asking yourself, how can a month filled with great weather be the month with the most vehicle crashes? Any guesses?

towing trailerWell, if you think about it, July is the busiest month for summer vacations. I too take my family away for a week during that month. It’s not surprising with all those vehicles on the road that crashes seem to escalate. Everyone seems to have a place to get to. Even those who are having a “stay-cation” will head out for day trips. Then there are those who head away from home for that much needed week “away from it all”.

But what about the winter weather of snow and ice – why doesn’t that escalate into a high crash month? Well, for the most part, people stay home in poor weather. For many, it’s just too cold to head out for trips in the cold winter weather. Many others won’t vacation in the cold weather. They would rather save their vacation time for the warmer weather.

So with that being said, what can we do to reduce the number of vehicle collisions during the summer months? Well, glad you asked. Staying home isn’t really the way I’m thinking, so plan your trip well. If it’s a long trip, plan where you’ll take breaks that would include where to have a washroom break. Needing to use the washroom can seriously take the attention away from any driver. Ensure you have your maps ready or if you use a GPS, ensure you program your trip accordingly. No one really likes to miss their turn. And if you do, there are a few things you can do to get back on track. (Find added information here.)

Making that long drive to your vacation spot can be tiring. Fatigue is a big problem for those heading out or coming back from a vacation. There are a few things you can do to help stay awake and alert. Pulling into a rest area is the perfect plan to catch a quick nap. That’s the best solution to avoid drowsy driving. However, until you can find a good place to pull over, ask your passenger to have a good conversation with you and put the air conditioning on full blast to help keep you awake. Caffeine can help too if you have it. If your brain’s awake, you’ll stay awake.

Other suggestions is, as always, remove your distractions. Keep a water bottle nearby so you won’t have to reach all about the seating compartments to find one. Of course, turn your phone off so you won’t text. Let your passengers help you with that if needed. Since many people enjoy sightseeing, I recommend you do that while walking. Slowing your vehicle down to a crawl where traffic shouldn’t be crawling can be a recipe for disaster.

Packing your vehicle properly will also help. Ensuring you can see out the rear and sides is important. If you have a van, SUV, station wagon or crossover vehicle, ensure baggage is no higher than the top of the backseat. Also ensure nothing loose can fly over the top of the rear seat in the event you have to brake or suddenly steer to avoid a hazard. Other than having flying distractions, these objects can injure an occupant of the vehicle with a sudden change of speed or direction. If it hits the driver, the driver could lose control of the vehicle.

These are just a few things drivers can do to reduce collisions during the busy driving months of July and August…and any other time of the year as well. The main thing is to be prepared and stay focused on driving. After all, it’s now summer and time to enjoy the weather!

Posted by: safedriver | June 18, 2015

Getting unstuck is easier now

wheel stuckIf you think about it, everyone at some point in their life gets stuck. We get stuck for cash, stuck for gift ideas and even stuck with having to do all of the chores around the house before guests arrive. Added to this, many people seem to get stuck in either poor weather or on poor road conditions. Well, if that happens to you, I may have a solution for you.

For years drivers have learned to carry things in their vehicle to help them get unstuck in winter weather, especially if they are alone. Anything from using a salt/sand mixture to using floor mats placed under the spinning wheels or metal tracks to drive over have been used by many drivers over the years. That may help you get unstuck in winter, but what would happen if you got stuck in mud during the summer months? Spinning wheels in deep mud can be just as treacherous.

I remember one of the seasons of Canada’s Worst Driver when I was a judge when one of the challenges had the participants using a 4-wheel drive vehicle in a muddy challenge. Many drivers got stuck…and frustrated. Too bad they didn’t have a product to help them get unstuck during that time.

Trac Grabber logoI recently found a great product called Trac-Grabbers. They attach to the tread of the tire that is stuck and it literally lifts the tire out of the slippery area and helps to move it along. I was very intrigued by this so I went and tested it out. I found they worked extremely well and very quickly. I was able to quickly fasten them over the tread of the tire and secure it through the rim in a matter of seconds.

So now that I got it safely fastened, just how good are Trac-Grabbers? I waited for a good time weather-wise to test them. The road conditions were far less than ideal and it took a matter of seconds to get my vehicle moving again and unstuck. To say that I was impressed was an understatement. In a strange way, I almost can’t wait for deep snow to see how Trac-Grabbers will work in snow. I said almost.

What I liked the most about Trac-Grabbers was the quickness it got my vehicle unstuck and how easy it was to hook them up to my wheels. To see the benefits, check out this quick video;

 

 

This product was sent to me to try from http://www.tracgrabber.com but what I found out was they are sold in retail throughout Canada at Canadian Tire so anyone can quickly add these to their vehicle kit. I would recommend them to anyone. They take up very little space in your trunk and can fit most rims, including SUV’s, trucks and passenger vehicles. So if you ever get stuck now, you’ll know what to do…including if you get stuck for a gift idea!

IMG_20150609_094823Let’s face facts; road safety should be everyone’s concern. Even if you don’t drive, you still have to travel across roads as a pedestrian, cyclist or as a passenger in a vehicle. Being able to see the “big picture” is an advantage to all road users to help protect us all. The big picture is ensuring you understand that your actions – or lack thereof – can lead to fines or perhaps serious injuries to you or other road users. If you’re thinking this may pertain to you or someone you know, please continue reading.

I was recently invited to attend a commercial vehicle inspection blitz. Police officers guided commercial vehicles into an inspection area to ensure their vehicle was safe to operate, including the load they may be carrying and the trailer too. I attended a blitz a year ago and was a little disappointed with the outcome when it came to commercial drivers and their lack of detail on safety. This year seemed to be no different. But with this year, I was handed a few different things to think about.

Many of the drivers of these vehicles that were in violation were employees and not the vehicle owner. That lead me to consider this; do employers do enough training to help their employees who have to tow a trailer for their job? For example, if you decided to work for a landscaper and have to tow a trailer with lawn care equipment on it, were you informed about the maximum weight you can have on the trailer? What about ensuring you having a separate braking system for your trailer? In many jurisdictions, such as Ontario, you may need a different license class to operate a vehicle and trailers. That really depends on the weight of the trailer you’re towing. Check with your local jurisdiction to determine if you have the proper license classification before you begin to drive such a vehicle. Did you know about any of this? What training did you receive, if any?

Having a heavy trailer without a separate braking system for it can lead to a loss of control for the driver. Think of it this way; if you’ve ever driven a vehicle alone and then switched to a heavier vehicle full of people and packages and then try to brake normally, you may have stopped much later than you expected. Add a few thousand pounds and you may not stop in time. Compare it to running quickly down a hill and at the bottom of the hill when you try to stop, having someone behind you that isn’t slowing down as much as you and they keep pushing you forward. That’s what your heavy trailer can do with your vehicle and that can cause a serious collision.

So now you know. Knowledge and education is the key to helping all drivers remain safe on the roads. Ensure you get the proper training for the safety of driving the vehicle and the trailer you’re towing. Know all of the rules to follow for your jurisdiction and also how to safely drive that vehicle. Whether you drive for your job or just to get to your job, it pays to fully understand all safety factors.

If you like this article, please help support the effort for safe roads. Support HERE.

Posted by: safedriver | May 29, 2015

Another car site you’re bound to enjoy!

Zorra-20130701-00430Ever since I was a young teen I loved cars. I loved classic cars, hot rods and the exotic automobile. The sleek lines and sounds of that raw power made cars exciting for me. They still do. Besides promoting road safety I also spend my time viewing these types of vehicles whenever I can; whether it’s live, via magazines or online. There seems to be more and more online resources to help those car enthusiasts get up to date information regarding their favourite vehicles. One such site is called Swiftly.

I enjoy searching for new and interesting sites. This up and coming site will allow viewers to interact with drivers from your local community and worldwide. Find out whose driving the same car model as you and discuss whatever’s on your mind. Swiftly is also including a question and answer feature called talk where you’ll be able to find an answer for any car related question you may have. This replaces the traditional forum type of function.

With this site you’ll find the usual photos and articles, but also videos related to the vehicles you love to view and drool over. The articles come from common publications and the videos are also from TV shows. Everything you want when it comes to the love of vehicles under one site. Sounds good, right? Another bonus of this site is it also allows you to promote your own vehicle and talk to other enthusiasts about the same vehicle. Find out what they like or don’t like and grow your knowledge.

One of the best features of this new site is that it becomes more interactive with the viewers. They will add an achievement system, where you get special rewards if you provide answers. If you answer a lot of questions regarding Honda, for example, you will be credited with the Honda Specialist title, which can be shared with your connections, either on Swiftly or other social platforms – such as Facebook and Twitter.

Finally, with the marketplace, Swiftly will be adding a dedicated store where you can directly find products from local shops or from the manufacturers relevant for the cars you own. Since they are about to launch their site, Swiftly can issue email invites so that users will be able to access the site as soon as they release it. Check out this video clip to see their potential!

 

 

So as you can see, there’s a bit more here with Swiftly that you’ll find with other sites. Take the time to check out Swiftly at http://www.swiftly.eu if you are a lover of cars…any cars. You’ll be glad you did.

Posted by: safedriver | May 24, 2015

Setting up the side mirror – things to think about

IMG_20150417_081013

This is the second part of a two-part series discussing side mirror setup. This isn’t about which is better and who should win this “battle”. It’s about making an informed choice to keep you, your passengers, your vehicle and other road users safe while driving. If you missed the first part, here it is; https://safedriving.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/setting-up-the-side-mirrors-part-one/

Here’s something to think about with this type of mirror set up. Experts will ask drivers why they want to see a sliver of their vehicle in their side mirrors with the traditional setup. Well, here’s why. Considering one of the most common types of vehicle crashes is a rear crash, your side mirrors can help you avoid a multiple vehicle pile-up. Let me explain.

Here’s the scenario. You’re stopped in traffic and a large vehicle is stopped behind you. You check your rear view mirror and all you can see is the tinted windows of that vehicle behind you or the grill of the large pickup truck. If that vehicle gets hit from behind, they could easily be pushed into you, causing severe damage and possible injuries to you and your passengers. However, if you have your side mirrors angled to still see down the side of your vehicle and up the lane, you can still monitor traffic approaching from behind. If you spot another vehicle approaching quickly from behind, you have that opportunity to move out of the way to avoid being involved in a multiple rear crash.

Let’s say you’re waiting to make a right turn into traffic. While stopped you keep checking to the left to look for an opening. If your side mirror was angled away from your vehicle, you could miss seeing any cyclist about to come up on the side, including from a bicycle lane. Glancing into a side mirror and blind spot before making that right turn allows you to ensure its safe to make the turn.

IMG_20141009_122953And the last point to consider. When parked at the curb with a larger vehicle parked behind you, your rear view mirror becomes useless to see traffic approaching from behind before pulling out. It’s helpful to be able to use your side mirror to ensure its okay to safely pull away from the curb. If the angle of the side mirror has been pushed out, that may not work to your advantage.

So there you have it. The pros and cons about adjusting your side mirrors away from your vehicle or showing a sliver of the vehicle while sitting in the normal driving position. The decision is yours. Make an educated one. Even many experts say a blind spot check in certain situations is still required to help drivers make safe driving choices. Being an observant driver is still the main goal here. If a collision happens because you may have missed seeing someone, you only have yourself to blame. If a collision happens between two drivers, it only takes one of those drivers to do something different for the collision to not happen. I’m an advocate for safe driving. I can only give you the facts. You have to make your own choices. I just hope you make the safest choice.

Posted by: safedriver | May 21, 2015

Setting up the side mirrors – part one

005Sometimes change is good. Doing the same thing all the time can become quite boring at times, so switching things up to add spice in our lives can be a good thing. However, change just for the sake of change isn’t always a good thing. We have to weigh out the advantages and disadvantages with this change before making the change. Sound familiar? Driving skills and techniques are no different to this theory.

For a number of years a variety of driving experts have lobbied to have drivers change how they set up their side mirrors and I understand why. The theory to these changes is that it can remove blind spots from the side of vehicles. Now, I’m a big supporter of giving drivers an edge and reducing collisions, so I went ahead and made those changes…to test out the theory. This is what happened.

The “new” way to set up the driver side mirror is to lean over as far as possible toward the driver’s door and just see a sliver of the vehicle in the side mirror. This means the mirror is more angled to see into the lane beside you to the left while you’re sitting in the normal driving position. To adjust the right side mirror, it was suggested to lean as far as possible across the centre console and also see a sliver of the vehicle. This too shows the lane beside you to the right. To the many experts who support this set up, this means no need to check the blind spot, right? Well, I did this for over three weeks and tested the theory. I needed to see for myself, so to speak, the advantages and disadvantages of this setup.

It was true that I could see every vehicle approaching from either side of my vehicle. Once I was about to lose sight of a vehicle in my rear view mirror passing me, I was able to pick them up in my side mirror. No vehicle was able to hide from me and that’s a good thing. I liked the change. Nothing surprised me, but it did take time to get used to these changes. But then I took this mirror set up to a multiple lane one-way street system, to which there are many within the community I live in. I also took it onto the multiple lane freeways in my community. This is where I became concerned.

While traveling in the right hand lane, I lost sight of vehicles in the far left lane. They were 2 lanes from me and if I trusted what I saw in the mirror only and changed to the centre lane just as they were changing to the same centre lane, a collision could have happened, or at least a close call. Once I lost sight of the driver in the far left lane in my side mirror, I did a quick check of my blind spot and found that driver was close enough to my rear fender that if we both changed into the centre lane and not paying enough attention as we should, there could have been a collision or perhaps a sudden swerve back because of panic.

I can see a lot of advantages to eliminating the blind spot, but at what risk? If drivers fail to check their mirrors often enough and after checking both the rear view mirror and side mirror and don’t see a vehicle, is that enough to say a vehicle won’t be changing into that middle lane on a one-way street or a multiple lane freeway?

Being aware of our surroundings while driving is something all drivers need to do. Mirror checks are important, but using short term memory is also important so we remember what we saw with that last check. The question remains…is that enough to keep us safe? This is the first part of a two-part evaluation of mirror setups. I spent a few weeks using this setup to help me get used to it. Look for the second installment coming up soon.

Posted by: safedriver | May 19, 2015

Another episode of “did you know?”

Hamilton 2-20120725-00307Life is always about learning something new. Sometimes we set out to find something new and other times it’s just as if it slaps us in the face. Well, instead of slapping yourself, I thought I would bring you a few things you may not have known in regards to driving. So, without further delay, here’s another installment of “did you know?”

Did you know… hitting the gas to get through the intersection when the light changes from green to amber (yellow) won’t help you beat the light anyway? The millisecond that it may save you isn’t enough to help you beat the light. Instead, make a decision when the green light has been green for a while, that if the light was to change would you stop or go. This is a more proactive way to deal the changing of traffic lights.

Did you know… tucking the seat belt under your arm can cause serious injuries? It’s true. That technique can crack ribs or damage organs in the event you have to hit the brakes hard. Wearing the seat belt over your shoulder helps protect those internal organs, plus helps to keep you upright in case you need to make a sudden swerve.

Did you know… if you add vinegar to regular washer fluid it can clean bugs off your windshield? Vinegar was a cleaner well before we put it on our french fries. That’s mainly due to the acetic acid in vinegar. Adding1/3 part vinegar can do the job to clearing off those dead bugs. Adding more than that and you’ll be craving french fries each time you clean your windshield.

Did you know… you should sit at least 10 inches/25 centimetres from the centre of the steering wheel? This is to help protect you in case the airbag goes off. Being too close to the steering wheel may cause unnecessary injuries if the airbag deploys. Sitting closer than that will also affect your steering control. To help shorter drivers achieve the proper seating distance, many vehicles have telescoping steering wheels. Pushing the steering wheel toward the dash as much as possible will still allow the shorter driver to reach the pedals and stay at least 10 inches/25 centimetres away from the airbag.

Did you know… when turning left from a one way street you should begin the turn from the most left you can get on that one way street? Think of it this way…when your turning left from a 2-way street you move beside the yellow line – the closest to the left you’re allowed to go. The same can be said for turning from a one-way street. Move toward the left hand curb before making the turn. This helps you make the turn safely without confusing or cutting off any driver beside you.

Did you know… that’s the end of this version? I hope you learned something or at least reminded yourself of something you did know but may have forgotten.

Posted by: safedriver | May 4, 2015

It’s driving quiz time!

014 (2)In today’s world, many people like to challenge themselves. Sometimes it’s through sports, or competitions, or even through education. So far I’ve done a couple of driving quizzes; one for commuters and a winter quiz. I thought it’s time for a quiz to see what kind of a driver you. How’s your general driving knowledge? It’s time to find out. If you’re ready for this multiple choice quiz, let’s go!

1. If your headlights have turns yellow from age, what can you use to clean them?

a) Elbow grease

b) Lots of soap and water

c) Nothing can clean them

d) Toothpaste…which also makes them smell minty fresh

2. Windshield wipers won’t last forever, so how often should they be changed?

a) Annually

b) 4 times a year

c) After you notice extensive wear

d) Twice a year

3. While stopped in traffic what should we be doing?

a) Adjusting the radio station

b) Monitoring traffic behind and planning an escape

c) Checking out the drivers beside us

d) Doesn’t matter since we’re stopped anyway

4. If you’re feeling tired while driving, what’s the best thing to do to stay alert?

a) Drink coffee

b) Get out and do a few exercises

c) Take a brief nap in a safe place

d) Turn the music up and sing along

5. Seat belts are used for what main purpose?

a) To avoid paying a fine

b) To keep you upright to help you control the vehicle to avoid a crash

c) To help rescuers locate occupants in case of a crash

d) Lessens injury in case of a crash

6. Before you enter your vehicle, what should you do?

a) Get all your snacks ready for the drive

b) Kick the tires

c) Walk around the vehicle checking for problems

d) Make sure you have your keys ready

7. What’s the minimum safe following distance in the city on dry roads?

a) Two car lengths

b) One car length for every ten miles per hour

c) Two seconds behind the driver ahead of you

d) Doesn’t matter as long as you think you can stop in time

8. To merge safely onto the expressway or freeway, you should…

a) Match the speed of the traffic already on the expressway

b) Look for an opening early

c) Signal in advance

d) All of the above

9. While driving, how often should a good driver should check their mirrors?

a) Every 5 – 8 seconds

b) Before slowing

c) While stopped

d) All of the above

10. How do you ensure you have room to move to avoid a collision with another vehicle?

a) Drive beside open space as much as possible

b) Look ahead and anticipate traffic patterns

c) Trust yourself and not the drivers around you

d) All of the above

Now that you’ve tried this safe driver quiz, check below to find the answers. If you need further information, use the search function to the right of the page and find the articles that may help you to better understand how to become a safe driver.

  1. d    2.  a    3.  b    4.   c    5.   b    6.  c    7.  c    8.  d    9.  d   10.  d

So how did you do? If you got 8 or more correct, you’re very good. 5 to 7 correct; you’re well on your way. Less than 5 correct, let me help you improve. Search the site for the topics you got wrong and help improve your knowledge. Improve your knowledge and then improve your skill.

Posted by: safedriver | April 27, 2015

I encourage you to try this

ndt-contestantFor the more than 27 years that I’ve been a driving instructor with Young Drivers of Canada I’ve been known as a supporter; someone who encourages others to do their best. To be honest, there are some days it can be difficult to encourage others. Regardless, I still feel it’s important to do. Are you an encourager? Do you help others feel that they’re capable of doing their best? As a driver we all know how important it is to do our best. Do you encourage yourself?

For the three years I was involved as a judge with Canada’s Worst Driver on Discovery Network, I had met a few drivers who could have really benefitted from spending time with an encourager. Their self-esteem was very low and after they perform challenges, they felt they had failed, even though they may have done much better than they had hoped and actually performed it well. Part of having the feeling of failure were the people around them. They kept pointing out all of the flaws instead of promoting their successes. Has this happened to you?

When I’m training new instructors for Young Drivers of Canada, I keep pointing out they should focus on what they’re doing well. Thinking of their mistakes promotes those mistakes to become more habitual. For the things they do incorrectly, they should focus on the solutions; on what to do the next time. There’s actually a process for giving out positive corrections to others. You should start off with praise for the things done correctly, and then provide the corrective behaviour of the things done incorrectly and then the outcome. The outcome, in other words, is why they should make those changes. When you know why you should make those changes, you’ll most likely do them. No one really does what they’re told. They tend to do what they believe in.

However, when it comes to encouragement, the first person you need to encourage is yourself. Believe in yourself. When I first started to write about road safety a decade ago, I wasn’t sure I could do it. I had never done anything like that before. I received a harsh criticism from someone I worked with at the time who reviewed my work and that really dropped my confidence in my ability. After that, I received encouragement from my family and the rest is history. I decided to take my own advice. I began to encourage myself.

There will be new things we try that just don’t seem right, including while driving. We want to be successful at it, but things just aren’t falling into place like we want. Here’s some advice to help you grow your ability when you’re learning something new. Lower your expectations. On a scale of 1 to 10, you may have always had high expectations of your abilities, perhaps an 8 or 9, but your current performance level isn’t anywhere near matching those expectations, perhaps it’s at a 2 or 3. If you lower your expectations when you first begin to learn, your performance can reach those expectations easier. Once you reach that level of expectations, you’ll feel better and you can then raise those expectations a bit more as you progress.

This “stepping-stone approach” will allow you to feel more positive about what you’re doing. You’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something. This positive outlook will help to encourage you to keep going and become successful in whatever you want. I hope this advice is encouraging you to be who you want to be, to become the driver you want to be and to help others you care about to do the same. I encourage you to try this.

If you like this article, please help support the effort for safe roads. Support HERE.

Posted by: safedriver | April 23, 2015

Fulfil your passion for driving… and for cars

Car Lister logoLet’s face it; I love cars and I love driving… and I’m not alone. Millions of people worldwide share this passion. For over 27 years I’ve tried to instill road safety on as many people as I possibly can. In my spare time I go to car shows and drool over those amazing machines and fantasize about owning such a vehicle. Well, it can get better than that. There are a variety of social media sites that can help that fantasizing come to life. One such site is called Car Lister.

Car Lister has a few advantages that other social media sites don’t have. They allow the member to view vehicles for sale like many sites offer but they also allow them to either start up an online car club or join an existing one. It’s rather unique as it combines buying and selling with the enjoyment of car clubs. Each member can chat with other members though private message, email or even a phone call. That can make it easier especially if you’re always on the go and don’t have time to play phone tag. And the best part; it’s free.

car lister mobileCar Lister has prepared an app for your phone for buying and selling cars online to make it easier if you’re not at your computer. As said, the app is free and as Car Lister tells me, it “creates responsive, media-rich listings from any mobile device in less than 2 minutes, but the best part is that it’s the first auto eCommerce platform with a social network build in”. You can find out more about Car Lister by checking out their website at http://carlister.co.

I’ll spend hours looking at a variety of car sites and clubs just to help fulfil my passion of driving and cars. There are other sites that let you do these things as well, but in many cases, you’ll need to use a few sites to accomplish same thing as this one site does. It’s a different look as well, so that can be refreshing and exciting.

Here’s what you can expect with this site; car clubs discussing events, TV shows uploading video previews for an upcoming car restoration series, dealerships announcing sales, manufacturers updating users about recalls, car fans sharing photos and keeping up with industry news, amongst the ability to buy and sell from one another. Sound interesting? Did I mention I love cars and driving? So does Car Lister.

I joined Car Lister and looked around. It does look like it could be a lot of fun. They’re live right now and are going to begin their launch their social platform in May/June of 2015 in the US, so go check them out! After that, they’ll hit Canada and the international stage. This could be fun and an interesting way to stay on top of the automotive world; in one easy stop.

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