How long has it been since your driver's test? Refresh your knowledge with these driving school fundamentals.
As the back to school season approaches, what better time to revisit some driving school fundamentals? Whether a new or experienced driver, part of being a safe and effective driver is knowing the rules of the road, safe driving behaviours, and what to watch out for. Most collisions are a result of driver error, but thankfully there are a few quick tips that you can practice on a daily basis to help lower your risk on the road.
There are several blind spots your mirrors aren’t able to detect and ignoring them could mean overlooking hazardous obstacles. It’s especially important to check these spots before changing lanes, exiting a parking spot and reversing. Your blind spots generally begin parallel to the front seat door handles and end at your back-indicator lights. In order to see these blind spots, perform a shoulder check by looking over either shoulder through the backseat windows. This should be a relatively quick movement that gives you enough time to see any potential vehicles, pedestrians or obstructions.
Driving can bring out the worst in people and road rage is an unfortunate reality of the world. It’s important to always stay calm during tense moments. On the road, “FIDO” means “Forget It, Drive On.” Follow this mantra so unsavoury encounters on the road don’t escalate. Unless an accident occurs, try not to waste your time and engage with angry drivers – you’ve all got places to be.
The One Foot Rule
It’s a no-brainer for experienced drivers, but for novice motorists, it seems like a silly rule to leave one foot by while the other does all the work. There’s a very good reason for this rule: two-footed driving is extremely dangerous during emergency maneuvers, as the driver may inadvertently step on the wrong pedal, or step on both simultaneously, risking a fatal accident. The Ontario Highway Traffic Act doesn't state which foot must be used when driving. So stick to one-foot driving, place your dominant (usually your right) heel between the pedals and pivot between the brake and accelerator.
The Glass of Water Trick
Nothing is worse than drivers who ram on the brakes and accelerator. Your passengers get mad, other drivers get mad, and it’s easy to go unnoticed when you’re the one behind the wheel. A good tip to follow is to pretend there’s a glass of water in the passenger seat and you can’t spill a drop. You’ll notice how naturally it comes to smoothly ease on and off the pedals when you use this little mental trick.
Merging onto Highways
As you enter the highway, begin to accelerate while keeping an eye in the lane in front and behind you to scan for oncoming traffic. Keep your foot off the brake unless absolutely necessary and look for an opening between cars. When you spot a safe gap, use your indicator to signal to other cars you are about to merge. Check your rear-view and side mirrors, shoulder check, and gradually cross over into the designated lane, building speed at the same time. Do not to swerve suddenly, as it could alarm other drivers. When your vehicle has fully moved to the adjacent lane, switch off your indicator and maintain an appropriate speed.
Parking is the more technical element of driving. Whether you’re reverse-parking or parallel-parking, these maneuvers often take some practice. You always need to be scanning your surroundings for pedestrians and other vehicles. Always apply a handbrake when parking on a hill, and ensure your wheels are facing in the direction of the pavement in case your brakes fail.
Over 35,000 vehicle collisions in Ontario resulted in fatalities or personal injuries in 2016. This can be a scary statistic, but sharpening your skills is something you can do regardless if you’re a novice or seasoned driver. We hope these tips will improve your awareness and give you a boost of confidence when you’re on the road. For additional information, we recommend revisiting the official MTO Drivers Handbook and the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario and its regulations.
Want to join in on the conversation? Let us know which driving rules you follow and tweet us @OnliaCA #OnliaCA.