Managing Your Road Risk
It’s after 5 PM and you’re on the highway heading home. You’re hungry. You’re late. So, you give the car a little gas. Sure, it’s snowing a bit, but you’re in control. You’ve never had an accident. It’s all good, because let’s be honest here, your biggest worry is the RCMP. Speeding ticket. Worst. Thing. Ever.
Wrong. So very wrong.
Winter driving is risky business, my friend. And Staff Sergeant Dave Bishop of the RCMP knows just how bad it can get. “Every year some 1,000 Canadians are killed and nearly 6,500 are seriously injured in jurisdictions policed by the RCMP. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among the youth of this country.”
Yeah. You read that right. The leading cause of death of young people.
So how the heck do you stay safe (and legal)?
First thing? “Wear your seatbelt!” asserts Bishop. It’s not just hype that seatbelts save lives. “They are the most effective way to save lives and reduce serious injuries. So many people would be alive today if they hadn’t been ejected from their vehicles in a crash.”
In fact, according to the RCMP’s website, “In Canada, 90 percent of vehicle occupants wear their seat belts. The remaining 10 percent who do not wear seat belts account for 40 percent of all traffic fatalities.”
Second thing? Stay sober. Yes, we all know that a DUI is bad news, but check out this fact uncovered in a national survey conducted by Transport Canada: “Three percent of nighttime drivers were impaired between late night and early morning hours, Thursday through Sunday. (Yet) Coroner’s reports illustrate that these offenders account for 33 percent of traffic fatalities among drivers every year.”
Next up on the safety scale? “Be aware of your surroundings,” says the Staff Sergeant. Whether you’re in a parking lot or on the open highway, don’t just zone out and start building to-do lists in your head. Notice where you are.
Is the road ahead shiny and dark? That could be black ice. Slow down. Is the mall parking lot particularly busy? Back into your parking space this time and reduce the risk of hitting a pedestrian when you leave.
Regardless of the time of day, or year, obeying the “common sense” road rules will always help get you home safely. And yes, in case you were wondering, Staff Sergeant Bishop always backs into his parking space. “It’s procedure at RCMP Headquarters,” he says.