Published on Friday, 20 January 2012
I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, but here’s one resolution that I could endorse — becoming a better driver.
I’ve been driving for 40-plus years, and during those decades, I’ve refined my driving skills and have made a conscious effort to become a better driver.
A recent poll conducted by Leger Marketing reported that eight out of 10 Canadian motorists admitted to having at least one bad driving habit.
I’m prepared to examine my own driving habits and make the necessary adjustments to becoming a better driver. Now it’s time that all drivers — young and old, new and experienced — do the same.
One needn’t watch an episode of Canada’s Worst Driver to be convinced that bad driving is rampant today. Careless (and dangerous) drivers are everywhere, committing any number of infractions, such as illegal lane changes, failing to use turn signals, driving while under the influence of alcohol, driving while fatigued, succumbing to road rage, following too closely and fidgeting with electronic gadgets (i.e. cell phone use).
How does one become a better driver? It starts with being completely honest with yourself, examining your driving habits (from the moment you enter a vehicle until the time you exit it) and making a commitment to improve.
Ask friends and family members to observe you behind the wheel. It could be something as simple as forgetting to adjust your side view mirrors, neglecting to check your blind spot when changing lanes, driving over the white line or being the second vehicle to enter an intersection when waiting to make a left-hand turn.
Aging drivers have to be especially aware of their driving abilities. Medications, physical impairments and slower response times can impact your ability to drive safely.
For basic safe driving tips, Transport Canada has some useful information on its website ( www.tc.ca.ca). Even if you apply just one piece of advice from this site, it’s worth the effort.
If you are serious about improving your driving skills, consider enrolling in an advanced driving course. In December 2011, the Toronto Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) partnered with ILR Car Control School Inc. (ILR CCS), an advanced driver training school led by driving expert, Ian Law.
Law is an accomplished race car driver who writes a better driving advice column here at Wheels, and he is president and chief instructor of ILR CCS ( www.carcontrolschool.com). He teaches students of all ages how “to anticipate, manage and ultimately avoid emergency driving situations.”
ILR CCS advanced driver training is aimed at offering TADA members and their customers the opportunity to improve their driving skills. Courses are also suited for the general public, corporate employees, groups and car club members. The course offers a benefit to any driver, regardless of how long they have been driving a car (or the brand of vehicle).
In the past decade, automobile safety has improved immeasurably. Active head restraints, advanced airbags, electronic stability controls, lane departure warning systems and tire pressure monitoring are some of the many newer safety features that are available on current vehicles.
But even the most advanced safety features can prove ineffective when a careless driver is behind the wheel. Despite Google’s highly-publicized efforts at building a car that drives itself, motorists still need to pay attention, obey the rules of the road and apply basic common sense.
Yes, cars are safer today than ever before, and the number of traffic fatalities in Canada has fallen appreciably over the past 25 years, but the majority of auto collisions are still the result of driver error.
Let all motorists make a pledge to improve our driving skills in 2012. If this resolution prevents just one single accident from occurring, or saves a single life, it will have been worth the effort.
Remember: driving is a privilege, not a right.