Originally posted by Cameron McKay – via ama.ab.ca
We love spring. But we also recognize that the season of warmer weather comes at a price – and mosquitoes are the least it. Most notably, from a road safety perspective, 28% of all fatal collisions in Alberta occur between April and June.
It’s a staggering number that can be reduced with good driver vigilance. Here are some safe driving tips to remember once spring has sprung.
Prep Your Vehicle
Safety begins before you get behind the wheel
- Replace windshield wiper blades that leave streaks or don’t clear the glass in a single swipe.
- To ensure visibility during bad weather, keep all headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals clean and functioning. (As a rule, turn on your headlights whenever you drive.)
- Keep your tires properly inflated and make sure they have plenty of tread. Studies show that a 3 mm-deep tread can stop a vehicle on wet pavement in a 25% shorter distance than a tire with a 1.5 mm-deep tread. Need a new set of tires? AMA members save 5% at Kal Tire.
- Winter tires should be left on until the ambient temperature stays above 7 degrees Celsius on average.
Look Out for Pedestrians
Warm weather means more people outside
- Slow down and be extra cautious in pedestrian corridors, playground zones and school zones.
- If a yellow pedestrian-activated traffic light is flashing, slow to 30 km/h and yield to pedestrians wanting to cross the street. (Not stopping for pedestrians at a crosswalk results in a $776 fine and four demerit points.)
- Be wary of pedestrians who may be fixated on their electronic devices and aren’t paying due attention to traffic.
Watch for Wildlife
Animals are on the move
- Be aware that it’s the time of year when animals come out of hibernation and are foraging for food.
- Many animals are more active at dawn and dusk.
- Watch for animal-crossing signs, reduce your speed, look well ahead and scan aggressively.
- Animals often move in groups. If you pass one animal, slow down because there may be more.
- If it looks like you’re going to hit a large animal, try to strike it at an angle to reduce the chance of it coming through your windshield. Let up on the brakes just before hitting the animal. Statistics show 54% of crashes on Alberta rural highways involve an animal, and 4% of those crashes result in human casualties.
- In urban areas, you still need to be on the lookout for animals. You may encounter animals roaming near parks, wooded areas, river valleys, open green space, or city outskirts.
Beware of Flooding
Meltwater combined with spring rain can cause localized flooding
- Never try to cross the flooded section of a road, as the pavement underneath may be washed out. Instead, turn around and look for an alternate route.
- Avoid driving through large puddles. Deep water can stall your engine, impede your brakes, impair your vision, and even cause the vehicle to hydroplane.
- When conditions are wet or slushy, drive at a speed whereby you can easily control your vehicle, and maintain a following distance of four to six seconds.
- Never use cruise control on wet or slippery roads.
- To reduce the risk of hydroplaning, make sure you have tires with good tread to displace water, lower your speed, avoid hard braking or turning sharply, and try to drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you.
Share the Road
Spring means road maintenance crews, cyclists and motorcyclists
- Give maintenance crews plenty of space and adhere to all posted speed limit signs in those areas. In construction zones, always obey the flag person’s signal and be prepared to slow down and/or stop when entering work zones. (When workers are present, fines for speeding in construction zones are doubled.)
- Mirror check, and check your blind spot, prior to all horizontal movement.
- When turning left, scan for oncoming motorcycles. Motorcyclists can be hard to see, especially in heavy traffic or at night, and are often moving at a faster speed than it appears.
- To help avoid construction delays, check AMA Road Reports interactive map ahead of time and use an alternate route if possible.
Follow These Tips
Other reminders for spring driving
- Use low-beam headlights in the rain or fog.
- Keep your windshield washer fluid topped up.
- If you can’t avoid a pothole, brake just before impact.
- In rural areas, scan at least 20 seconds ahead of your vehicle.
- Stay out of other drivers’ blind spots (particularly semi-trucks and other large vehicles).
- Obey all speed limits and drive to conditions.
- On long road trips, schedule a break about every two hours.