Skip to main content

S. Elizabeth Maloney recently took driving lessons.

Wendy Maloney

As a novice driver, I was hesitant about getting on the road. Growing up in Calgary and Toronto and hearing on the radio about all the accidents happening on the road each day, made me feel as though anyone could be caught in these situations.

There are more than 450,000 vehicle collisions every year in Canada. It was with this scary statistic in mind that I recently took a driving course from Young Drivers of Canada to sharpen my skills before applying for a licence. I've learned that being both pro-active and responsive, drivers could reduce the number of crashes drastically and am now ready to take the driver's test, confidently.

My instructor was firm but fair. "I love my life, that's why I'm here to teach you to drive safely, so I can continue living my life," he said on the first day of class instruction. "I would rather you be confused in this class than be confused on the road."

Story continues below advertisement

Here are some of the tips I've received. If all drivers embraced them, we could make the roads safer for everyone:

Always plan your trip: Choose the safest route to your destination and know ahead of time what lane and when is the correct one.

Circle check: Before getting in a vehicle, walk around it to look for damage or objects blocking the car.

Slow and steady wins the race: Speeders and constant lane changers don't get to their destination much faster than those travelling at a steady speed – and they brake more often.

MELT: This is short for Minimum Eye Lead Time. In urban areas, you should be scanning the road 12-15 seconds ahead – or about one city block. On the highway, it's 20-30 seconds – or as far as the eye can see. Vision is a driver's first line of defence, and it's always better to anticipate hazards rather than react to them.

Keep your distance: Maintain a following speed of two seconds behind the car ahead on city roads, 3-4 seconds on the highway, and 4 seconds on on-ramps.

The eyes have it: Move them, every two seconds. Glance, don't look.

Story continues below advertisement

Check: Rear mirror? Check. Side mirrors? Check. Every 5-8 seconds. Check them before slowing, before and after turning, while stopping, and while stopped.

Scan: All parked vehicles for occupants. There's nothing quite like a car door opening unexpectedly.

Parking: Whenever possible, back into a parking space. Ideally, drive through one spot to park in another. The blind spot at the rear of a vehicle is larger than in front.

Wise words: "Don't argue with trucks, they're bigger than you."

Road rage: "When I drive I always bring my dog with me – F.I.D.O: Forget It Drive On."

Being tailgated? Take your foot off the gas to gradually decrease speed. The tailgater will pass.

Story continues below advertisement

Communicate: Cars are equipped with a horn. Use it. But be co-operative.

Blind spots: Don't stay in another driver's for more than three seconds.

At a red light: Wait three-four car lengths back if there is no vehicle behind you at a light. Move up one car length every time a car approaches and plan an escape in case you are about to get hit from behind.

Left turns: Position your vehicle when waiting to allow yourself and others to spot problems. Wait with your wheels straight before making a turn (not pointed in the direction you wish to go). Should a vehicle strike you from behind, you won't be pushed into oncoming traffic.

ROAD TEST TIPS

  • Look left, centre, right (exaggerate your movements) at every train track and intersection.
  • Check your mirrors often (exaggerate and look up using your neck).
  • Signal left or right when pulling out of a parking spot.
  • Drive in the right lane as much as possible.
  • Don’t sigh. It reveals that you just made a mistake, one that maybe the examiner might have missed.

The writer is a student at Guelph University. Special to The Globe and Mail

If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at globedrive@globeandmail.com.

Follow us on Twitter @Globe_Drive.

Add us to your circles.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter