Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Driving Basics 101 - Part III

“Get Your Keys”

As I said at in Part I of this series, I am taking the liberty of assuming that I am writing this for the benefit of drivers who have a licence and have met the provincial minimum for driving privileges in Ontario.

So, you have checked your vehicle in terms of apparent safety and maintenance issues, you have all the required documents with you, you know where your controls are, what warning lights mean, your mirrors are adjusted, you are seated properly and your seatbelt is secured.

Since you have attained your driver’s licence you are well versed in all aspects of the rules and regulations that govern driving a car. I mean, if you are going to use the privilege of travelling on our roads, you have naturally made yourself acutely aware of the laws that are in place to protect you and everyone else on the roads.

On the right hand side of this blog is a section “Great Information for Safer Roads”. City of Toronto By-Laws, Municipal Code and most importantly, The Highway Traffic Act are all linked here. If you need a refresher on the laws, rules and regulations, I strongly suggest you go to those sites and study!!

Driving requires your full attention – NO DISTRACTIONS
Driving is a skill and like any skill it requires attention to details. What are distractions? Distracted driving can occur any time a driver's attention is taken away from where they should be focusing their concentration — the driving task.

Driver distractions include cell phones, eating, drinking, changing a CD, fiddling with radio dials, talking to a passenger, experiencing emotional distress, minding children, personal grooming, looking at billboards or even other vehicles on the road.

The CAA believes that distracted driver education on the full range of distractions leading to a crash, as well as measures to manage those distractions effectively and safely, should be required for all motorists.

There are many different types of distractions
Physical: Distractions that cause a driver to take his/her hands off the wheel, such as eating a sandwich.
Cognitive: Activities that take the driver's mind away from the road, such as carrying on a conversation with another passenger, talking on a cell phone, re-living an argument in your mind or even daydreaming.
Combination: Activities that take your hands, eyes and mind off the road, such as reading a map or programming the radio.
"It's only for a second or two"
Even a moment's distraction can be dangerous. A second or two may not seem like much, but at 50 km/hr, you will travel 14 metres in one second.

A lot can happen in a second or two. Being distracted causes drivers to react more slowly to traffic conditions or events, such as another vehicle stopping to make a left turn, or pulling out from a side road. Distracted drivers fail more often to notice or recognize potential hazards, including pedestrians, bicycles or debris on the road. When drivers allow distractions to take their focus away from the seriousness of the driving task, they decrease their margin of safety and are more likely to take risks even without knowing it.

On The Road – It’s more than just D for drive
There are two skills that are learned, that will assist you to become a professional driver:
This style of driving is where the operator of a vehicle scans their environment, identifies potential hazards and takes the necessary measures to prevent potential conflicts.
This skill is used when co-operative driving fails. The driver must make an
evasive manoeuvre to avoid contact with the hazard. To accomplish this, the
driver must react with a split second decision.

Both of these skills will be explained in detail next week, but for now, here they
are…do some homework and research these.

The 3 Co-Operative Driving Concepts (ABC’s of Driving)
1. Awareness - Plan and Identify critical path - predict potential hazards
This is accomplished by:
(a) Scanning; Perception of time zones
(b) 4 – 8 – 12 – 20 Second eye lead
(c) 2 – 3 Second following distance
(d) Offset lane position; Open lane; Lane of least resistance, Curb lane when possible
(e) Traffic controls; Scan intersection, (left centre, right)

2. Be Seen - Achieve visibility
This is accomplished by:
(a) Horn
(b) Offset lane position, daytime running lights, signals
(c) Hand signals, acknowledgements of courtesy

3. Create Escape Routes -
This is accomplished by:
(a) 2 - 3 Second following distance
(b) Check mirrors every 4 – 5 seconds
(c) Maintain one free side
(d) Keep blind spots clear
(e) Cover brake
(f) Stationary escape route
(g) When possible, reverse into parking spaces

Next Week, Part IV - "ABC's of driving in detail"
Part I
Part II

Special thanks to the CAA for providing information on distracted driving.

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