Canada has one of the best road safety records in the world. The following information and tips can help you do your part to make Canada's roads even safer:

Core safety tips
  • Wear your seatbelt. Almost 40 per cent of all vehicle occupants killed in 2002 were not wearing a seatbelt. So whether you're a driver or passenger, buckle up.
  • Slow down. Excessive speed is a contributing factor in 20 per cent of occupant fatalities.
  • Each year, 25 per cent of deaths and 40 per cent of serious injuries from vehicle collisions occur at intersections. Be careful, even when you have the right of way, and remember to treat a non-working traffic light like a four-way stop.
  • In summer, there are more people on the roads in many different kinds of vehicles. Remember to watch out for motor bikes and bicycles and be courteous to these road users.
  • The safest place for kids under 12 is in the back seat. Have kids travel in the back seat, especially when there is an airbag for the passenger seat.
Don't drink and drive

Driving a car taps into almost all our basic skills - perception, attention, judgement, decision making, physical reactions - as well as our ability to coordinate these skills. Alcohol impairs these skills and our ability to drive.

  • Put simply, don't drink and drive.
  • If you are hosting a party or function where alcohol is served, remember that you may be legally liable for damage caused by guests - even after they have left the premises.
Check your tires

Without proper maintenance, your tires could fail and cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Proper tire maintenance is not only critical to the safe operation of your vehicle, but will also improve fuel economy, extend tire life, provide better vehicle handling, help prevent avoidable breakdowns and collisions, and reduce exhaust emissions that contribute to environmental, health and climate change problems.

  • Driving on under-inflated tires at high speeds on a warm summer day is a dangerous combination. For safety's sake, check your tires once a month, especially before you head out on a long trip.
  • Make sure your tires are inflated to the correct levels and do not exceed the load limit of your vehicle. This information can usually be found on the inside of the driver's door.
  • Inspect your tires regularly for uneven tread wear, cuts, cracks, bulges and foreign objects and rotate tires on a regular basis.
Sharing the road with large trucks and commercial vehicles

There are more commercial vehicles on Canada's roads now than ever before. These vehicles can be up to 40 times heavier than an average car and take more than twice the distance to stop. To prevent collisions with these vehicles, remember:

  • Avoid cutting in front of trucks or braking suddenly in front of them.
  • When you are in the driver's blind spot, move through quickly and never pass on the right, where the blind spot is even larger. If you can't see the driver's face in their side mirror, they can't see you.
  • When passing a truck, ensure you can do it safely, signal, then pass promptly. Be prepared to encounter splash and spray on wet roads.
Rail crossings

Every year, Canadians die in railway crossing and trespassing incidents, most of which are preventable. Here are some simple things you can do to prevent injuries and deaths on the tracks:

  • Obey the signals. Last year, 26 people died and another 51 were seriously injured at rail crossings. Never attempt to drive under a gate as it is closing, or around a closed gate. If the gate begins to close while you're driving over a crossing, keep moving until you've cleared the crossing.
  • Listen for warning bells and whistles. Turn off distractions like radios, fans and heaters. Ask the kids to be quiet until the crossing is safely crossed, and open the window to help you hear.
  • Be prepared to stop at all railway crossings without signals. It is very important to look carefully for any approaching trains. It is very difficult to accurately judge how far away a train is and how fast it is travelling. Trains cannot stop quickly. A train travelling at 100 km/h requires the length of 14 football fields to stop and it cannot swerve to avoid you.
Cell phones and other distractions

Pay attention-don't engage in distracting activities while driving. Cell phones and other devices such as electronic navigation systems are emerging as factors in road collisions.

  • Do not use a phone while driving.
  • Turn the phone off before you start driving. Let callers leave a message.
  • If there are passengers in the vehicle, let one of them take or make the call.
  • If you're expecting an important call, let someone else drive.
Winter driving tips
  • Always keep the gas tank at least half full, and add gasoline antifreeze to every second tank.
  • Top up antifreeze, transmission, brake and windshield-washer fluids.
  • Use a matching set of snow tires that meet standards (see below).
  • Make sure that tire valves are equipped with caps to keep out snow and ice.
  • Dress properly - wear warm clothing.
  • Carry a winter emergency kit that includes: extra antifreeze and windshield-washer fluid; a flashlight and extra batteries; blankets; a candle; matches; hazard markers or flares; a snow shovel; extra hats and mitts; and chocolate or granola bars.
  • Check local weather and road conditions before leaving.
  • If possible, tell someone where you are going and when you expect to arrive.
  • Bring a map and be prepared to take an alternative route.
  • Bring a cell phone.

In February 1999, Transport Canada announced the introduction of a new industry standard to help Canadian consumers identify and buy snow tires that provide a higher level of traction for Canada's harsh winter conditions. This standard is now being implemented by North America's tire manufacturers, and is being monitored by Transport Canada. The tires are marked on at least one sidewall with a pictograph of a mountain and snowflake.

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