With a new season, comes new risks. As Canadian drivers we know to be EXTRA careful during the winter months, but there are many reasons to be careful in spring/summer too.
Here are some tips to help you, and the people you share the road with, to stay safe this season:
Be Aware of Children Playing in the Streets
The arrival of better weather means more children are playing outside on the street – during rush hour traffic and late afternoon. Whether it’s kicking a ball around or riding bikes, children’s movements can be sudden and unpredictable.
Watch for Runners – Anticipate Their Path
Warm weather brings runners – many who are focused on preparing for that 5k run or marathon. Often using an iPod and earplugs, they may be less aware of you than you are of them. Anticipate their path and slow down when going around or turning near them.
Watch for Motorcyclists
After many months of cold-weather driving, many Ontario drivers aren’t used to the sudden presence of motorcycles on the roads. Motorcyclists can often accelerate faster and may seem to “appear out of nowhere” for drivers who aren’t watching for them. Particular attention needs to be paid to your mirrors and blind spots when changing lanes.
Share the Road with Cyclists
Cyclists are out enjoying the warm weather too. Before turning, stopping or proceeding, check your rear view mirrors to spot their location. When passing on the road, give them plenty of room. If you’re approaching a busy intersection, slowdown in the event that a cyclist may be turning left in front of you.
Be Alert for Animals
The advent of better weather means animals coming out of hibernation and even domesticated animals out on the run. Some animals are more active at dawn and dusk. Be on the lookout for them roaming on or near city streets.
Residual Sand and Stopping Distance
We think of slippery road conditions especially in winter driving with snow and ice. But in the spring/summer, drivers need to watch for sand that has been put down to increase car tire grip in winter. Once snow and ice has melted, residual sand actually creates slippery conditions. Leftover sand requires a greater braking distance in spring/summer driving. Remember to brake earlier and more gently when you see sand on the roads.
Watch out for Potholes!
We all know we live in “Pothole City”. New potholes on the road are a leftover hazard from winter conditions. Anticipate and note potholes along your commute. This will keep your vehicle damage-free from unnecessary road conditions.
Stay Focused on your Driving
With warmer weather comes the beauty of trees budding, grass becoming greener and shrubs coming back to life! Don’t let your attention wander from the road to take in Mother Nature.
Road Construction and Closures
Slowdown in construction zones. Remember that there are workers on the roads. Better to travel slowly and be safe than travel too quickly and cause an accident with another vehicle or a construction worker.
Check for Road Closures – Anticipating road closures can save you a lot of time and frustration.
Give your Vehicle a Tune-Up
Ontario winters can be hard on vehicles. The cold temperatures, snow, slush, salt and road grit can cause accelerated wear and tear on a vehicle. Check things like your fluid levels, brakes and wiper blades to make sure everything is in good order. If you are not a mechanical person, many garages have affordable tune up packages.
Another Ontario winter vehicle concern is a nasty four letter word vehicle owners hate to hear – RUST. The salt can be particularly harsh on older vehicles that are more prone to rusting. Check your vehicle over thoroughly to see if it has developed any rust spots over the winter. If there are some it’s best to get them repaired before the rust spreads and causing a bigger and more expensive repair.
We don’t associate ‘risks’ with spring/summer driving. And yet, there are many hazards that we need to be aware of. From rapidly changing weather to wet and slippery road to increased pedestrian traffic and larger numbers of domestic and wild animals outside, there are numerous distractions and challenges that can result in accidents and damage. By following some of these tips and giving full attention to your driving, we can all make the roads safer for everyone—pedestrians, runners, and cyclists!