Safe driving requires action

Anyone who drives or even travels as a passenger in a car knows the anecdotal truth: it’s crazy out there on the road. Drivers are more aggressive, inattentive, and downright rude than ever before.

A recent poll conducted by an auto insurance company shows the fear is widespread. A full 70% of Canadians are "extremely concerned" about driving safety, according to the DirectProtect Personal Safety Index.

We should be concerned. Statistics show that:

  • 44% of Canada’s population (representing over 13 million Canadians) have had a motor vehicle accident
  • 38% have filed an insurance claim
  • Almost 50% have received a ticket.

Yet in the face of this public safety threat, 44% of drivers have done nothing to improve their driving skills.

Road education key

Experts agree that one of the simplest and most effective methods to improve road safety is education. Older drivers are already leading the way in their efforts at improving driving skills.

More Canadian drivers in the 55 years of age and older bracket have re-read the rules or taken
more driving education than other age groups. This reflected in another statistic:

  • Canadian drivers 35 to 54 years old were most likely than other ages to have had an accident, filed a claim, or received a ticket.

If you’re among those who haven’t taken a hard look at their driving for a couple of decades, consider the following suggestions:

  • Re-read the Driver’s Handbook every two years.
  • Take refresher-driving lessons or an advanced driver’s course specifically designed for previously licensed drivers. Many driving schools offer these lessons at reasonable rates.
  • Slow down — almost one quarter of all fatal accidents in Ontario last year were due to speed.
  • Drive in the right-hand lane, unless you’re passing.
  • Don’t tailgate.
  • Don’t drive when tired.
  • Pay attention to your fellow road users – pedestrians, cyclists, and
    school buses

Defensive course

One of the best ways to improve your driving skills and lower your risk of accidents is to take the Defensive Driving Course developed by the National Safety Council in the U.S. More than 40 million drivers in North America have taken the course, which offers valuable skills that you’ll use for the rest of your driving days.

It is available at driving schools throughout Canada, and only involves a couple of evenings in a classroom. Skills I learned in the course many years ago have helped me avoid numerous accidents ever since. With the driving conditions we now face, it’s a course I can recommend.