How to stay safe this holiday season
By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, December 23 2016
Most drivers take personal holidays at this time of the year.
They are out of sync with their normal daily routine.
This accounts for drivers who are darting from place to place to somehow beat the Christmas rush.
Others appear lost and confused, as they negotiate unfamiliar neighbourhoods, which can include shopping, parties, relative visits and recreational activities.
Beware the dreaded parking lot. Many drivers prefer the parking garages which are several levels high, with a one-way, in-andout design.
They have a much lower crash incidence than the mall, for example.
Street parking is often difficult to find, even though it is the preferred way to escape the all too-frequent sidedoor dings.
It is best to park away from the main doors of the mall. Leave the close-to-the-mall spaces for the handicapped and those with mobility issues.
Try to park in an end-of-the-row space so there is only one vehicle beside your car.
A drive-through space is the safest option. If there are barriers, back into the space.
It will be so much easier to leave.
Use idle speed when in a parking lot, so as to give yourself more time to stop if necessary.
Kids are excited at this time of the year and we should all be on the lookout for the toddler who strays from parents.
On a multi-lane road, choose the lane that gives you the clearest view of all traffic.
If there is no clear view, it is best to have vehicles on each side or at least one side, running interference for you.
Let the other drivers be the first in the intersection, effectively blocking for you.
Make a series of right turns instead of the most crash-prone left turn across oncoming traffic.
The road surface is often slippery in winter. It takes longer and further to stop in winter conditions.
Increase following distance to four seconds. Follow a professional driver if you can.
Leave yourself an escape: It is near impossible to stop on a high speed highway, let alone in wintertime.
Families on a road trip should use frequent rest stops to fight against fatigue.
There are many elevation changes on a typical B.C. road trip. Visitors to our province, flatlanders in particular, do not appreciate the radical change in temperature due to elevation changes.
They are much better winter drivers than the average Lower Mainlander or Lower Islander, but are often unfamiliar with local hazards.
Bridges will often look clear and dry, but beware the condensation that can be present without obvious signs.
There is little space to escape on a bridge. If a crash is imminent, and no escape is available, it is better, depending on speed, to guard the driver door.
Drivers who stay behind the wheel and conscious throughout the crash situation are better able to mitigate threatening circumstances.
Passengers are more likely to survive impact if the bumpers, seatbelts and airbags are allowed to function as intended.
It is good to have a co-pilot on long trips, and to switch roles from time to time.
Have a safe and festive holiday season. Merry Christmas everyone, and thanks for reading.