With summer fast approaching, it’s road trip season in Canada. While it’s great fun to pack up the car for a getaway, it’s also important to be safe during long trips. Driving is a very demanding task; you need to pay close attention to the road at all times, and if you’re not properly prepared, you could find yourself engaging in risky behaviours that could lead to an accident.
Providers of car insurance in Alberta want you and your friends and family to stay safe and claims-free. Always make safety planning a part of your road trip.
Car Insurance Alberta: Avoid Distracted Driving
First, and most importantly: do not engage in distracted driving. Not only do you risk steep fines and demerit points under Alberta law, but you’ll also be needlessly endangering your safety and the safety of passengers, pedestrians and other people on the road.
Specific to an extended car trip, be sure to:
- Program your GPS device before you leave, and pull off the road if you need to enter information or adjust settings during your trip
- Program MP3 players, portable music players and other in-vehicle entertainment devices in advance of your departure so you don’t have to fiddle with them while you’re driving
As always, do not text, talk on a handheld cell phone, read, groom yourself or use electronic devices when you’re behind the wheel.
Before and During the Journey…
A few preparatory tasks to take care of before you leave include:
- Have your automobile checked by an experienced mechanic if it’s an older car or high-mileage vehicle
- Ensure your tires are filled to the appropriate levels, stock up on all vehicle fluids and make sure your headlights, high beams, brake lights and turn signals are functioning correctly
- Pack a well-stocked emergency kit, including drinking water, flares, flashlights, food and a first-aid kit
- Bring a jerry can with extra gasoline
- Make sure your spare tire is ready for use if it’s needed
Once you’re on the road, stay safe by following these important tips:
- Obey all speed limits, signs and traffic signals
- Reduce your speed when driving in unfamiliar areas
- Remember that your GPS system offers suggestions, not commands; do not endanger yourself or your passengers to make a sudden move or turn
- Keep a close eye on your gauges, especially the fuel, oil, temperature, battery and “check engine” lights
- Plan activities for children so they don’t become a distraction during the journey
- Encourage your passengers to support your safety efforts by limiting noise levels and avoiding distracting behaviour
- Secure animals in safe, legal pet carriers
- Do not continue driving if you become fatigued to the point of attention loss
Avoid Fatigue behind the Wheel
Fatigue can be deadly on the road. Ideally, your party should include at least one other legally eligible driver who can take over if the primary driver gets tired. When combined with these strategies to combat fatigue, you can make your road trip much safer and more enjoyable:
- Get a good night’s sleep the day before you leave for your trip; experts say that 7 to 8 hours is the optimal amount
- Leave as early in the day as possible so the driver will be more alert
- Eat nutritious foods the day of the journey; fried foods and foods high in sugar and fat can cause drowsiness and energy crashes
- Use caffeine as a supplement for alertness, not a primary source; be careful about taking in too much caffeine, as this can cause unpleasant side effects that could distract you
- Keep your eyes and mind active by constantly scanning your surroundings, especially if you’re driving on a long, straight stretch of road in a rural area
- Avoid driving at night, particularly if you’re an older driver or have vision deficiencies
If you’re tired and you still aren’t close to your destination, find an appropriate place (like a fast food restaurant parking lot) to take a quick nap. It isn’t ideal, but it’s better than continuing when your eyelids are getting heavier.
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