Summer in Canada means people are spending more time outside, playing outside and living outside. More than ever before, families are cycling together, walking together and using active transportation as their preferred method of getting from A to B. As a motorist, this means it’s even more important to make sure you’re taking precautions to keep your community as safe as possible. With that in mind, here are 6 tips for safe summer driving:
Look before you drive
Vehicles continue to get larger in size, while kids stay the same size (as noted by Tom Flood on Twitter). That means visibility continues to be a concern for all road users. Most full-size vehicles have a blind spot both in front of and behind the vehicle. And while a backup camera is a great help, it does not show every hidden corner.
Before getting starting to drive, take a moment to circle your vehicle and make sure there is no one playing below your line of sight. And if you’re outdoors supervising children, make sure to keep them away from any parked cars, even in your own driveway, as cars can start and move unexpectedly.
Be extra careful near parked cars
Summertime means sports – everything from tossing a frisbee around on the front lawn to an impromptu game of basketball in a driveway. But that can also mean that balls and gear can escape from little hands and go sailing out into the street – and kids can sometimes react without taking time to look first.
Lines of parked cars are especially high-risk areas, as it’s hard to see children on foot moving into the street, and it’s hard for them to look and see traffic approaching. When driving on a street with many parked cars, it’s best to go slowly and be on extra alert for pedestrians and cyclists.
Stop at crossing pedestrians
With more families outside during the summer months, there’s more pedestrian traffic. Take extra time at all intersections to give pedestrians extra space, especially if they are moving with older family members, strollers or toddlers on wobbly young legs. Use caution at all intersections and make sure to come to a complete stop; double then triple check for any pedestrians before proceeding.
Be sure to keep a careful watch for crosswalks. Drivers should come to a stop when they spot pedestrians waiting to cross at the edge of a mid-road crosswalk or when they see crosswalk lights flashing. Do not proceed until pedestrians have fully crossed the road. In Ontario, the law indicates drivers and cyclists must stop and yield the whole pedestrian crossover until the person is completely off the roadway.
Check before locking
Although it is rare, the unthinkable can happen – a child can become locked in a hot car on a summer day. Even if you don’t usually transport children, get in the habit of checking the back seat before locking your car and walking away. And when leaving your car in the driveway, check and then lock all doors. Again, it is rare but children can climb into an unlocked car and become trapped inside.
Give cyclists space
Bikes, electric scooters, rollerblades, skateboards – they all share the road. As a motorist, be sure to give them lots of extra room, especially when smaller children are travelling with their families. Don’t crowd the bike lane, and take extra time to go around people-powered vehicles.
Also be careful when parking along a street and getting out of your car. Make it a habit to check your mirrors before opening your car door for cyclists or skateboarders that may be coming along the road, and give them time to pass first.
Lastly, summer is a time for long road trips, and that can mean tired drivers. The number one rule of safety on the road is focus, so it’s important to make sure you stay alert and watch for potential problems. Take breaks as needed, be sure to drink lots of water, and keep car chatter and music to a minimum. Whether you’re driving along city streets or country roads, surprises can happen – so stay awake and aware of the road ahead at all times.
Earn your Road SMARTS
If you would like to get more involved in road safety, we invite you to take the #RoadSMARTS pledge. By taking the Road SMARTS Pledge, you Support Making All Road Travel Safe, which can help improve road safety for everyone. When road behaviours change, accidents can be reduced. For more information and to take the pledge for free, visit https://www.ottawasafetycouncil.ca/road-smarts.