As summer approaches we begin to look forward to camping trips, long weekend visits to provincial parks and even the odd day trip to our favourite beach. Of course as summer gets busy, so do our highways. I have reviewed Manitoba Public Insurance’s (MPI’s) website and I will review some driving tips to help everyone enjoy their summer road trips as safely as possible.
According to MPI there were 96 vehicle-related fatal collisions in Manitoba in 2016, causing the deaths of 107 people. MPI cites three major behaviours that are most responsible for traffic fatalities. They are, distracted driving, speeding, and impaired driving. Not surprisingly, these three behaviours are all preventable.
There are many distractions drivers face, but the one recently targeted by police could be the most dangerous. It is the use of hand-held electronic devices such as cellphones. When you are driving, your focus should be on driving. Have your passenger answer your phone when possible or let the call go to voicemail. If you have to make a call or send a text while driving, find a safe place to pull over and stop your car before doing so. If you know you’ll be tempted to check your phone, turn it off or silence it and put it somewhere out of reach.
Speed kills! Your speed affects your reaction time and the distance it takes for you to stop in an emergency. Your speed determines the amount of energy transferred to to other objects or people during a collision. As MPI says, “the faster you go, the harder you crash”. Adjust your speed accordingly for bad weather or road conditions. Pay attention in school zones and slow down to 30km/hr. In the summer, when school is out, slow down when passing parks and playgrounds where children may be nearby. Give yourself extra time so you are not rushing to get to your destination.
When we hear impaired driving, we usually think of alcohol intoxication. There are other sources of impairment we also need to consider. Illicit drugs, prescription and non-prescription drugs and fatigue can all lead to impairment as well. You need to be alert and in control at all times while driving. Do not operate a motor vehicle when you are impaired. Call a friend, get a cab or in the case of fatigue, pull off to a safe spot and get some sleep before continuing.
To err is human. We will all make mistakes behind the wheel. Do your best to drive defensively to do your part to help prevent a collision when someone else makes a mistake on the road. Please wear your seatbelt. A properly worn seatbelt, added to the many safety features in today’s vehicles, can help save your life.
Visit www.mpi.mb.ca and click the heading Road Safety for many other great tips, including sections on child car seats, cycling, and wildlife. Be safe of the roads and have a great summer.
Dr. Kevin Convery, MD