Five driving tips that will let you cruise through road trip season

Pop quiz: when do fatal collisions occur most frequently in Alberta? According to Alberta Transportation, it’s during the month of May; and your odds increase on Fridays, and during rush-hour traffic.

Though fatal collision rates have declined over the years, AMA wants to remind motorists ahead of the May long weekend to be well prepared, alert and patient as road trip season gets underway. Here are five tips to help:

1. Prep your vehicle

It’s not enough to get your summer tires on. You’ll also need to give your vehicle a proper inspection, checking the brakes, hoses and fluids, battery, engine, radiator and tire pressure. Investing in a pre-trip checkup beats an expensive repair bill later when you’re stuck on the side of the road, not to mention the inconvenience.

2. Get some shut-eye

A good night’s rest is going to set you up for success the next day, especially when you’re doing some long-distance driving. Sufficient sleep not only helps keep you alert, it helps make you less susceptible to ‘highway hypnosis’, a trance-like state some drivers experience after driving tired over long distances. Drowsy driving is as dangerous as impaired driving because it slows your reaction time.

3. Avoid driver distractions

Don’t drive distracted. There’s a $287 fine and three demerit points in store for offenders. More importantly though, you’re putting everyone at risk. Put that phone away or turn it off; nothing is so important that it can’t wait. Get the help of your passengers, so you can focus on the road.

4. Don’t drive impaired

Sometimes, even the obvious bears repeating. Alcohol and drugs impair judgement and slow reaction times – a very dangerous combination when you’re operating a vehicle. That’s why our provincial government enacted the new impaired driving laws this April, giving police officers more roadside powers including an immediate suspension. It’s just not worth the risk, so plan ahead and designate a sober driver.

5. Share the road – graciously

The rule of thumb as a driver is that you always yield to vulnerable road users, even if they don’t have the right-of-way. So be cautious of cyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, and wildlife, always making eye contact with them to let them know you’ve seen them. With other drivers, maintain a safe travelling distance between vehicles – at least three seconds in good road conditions and four seconds on high speed roads. Be mindful too of construction zones especially when workers are present and slowing down when passing emergency vehicles.

Regardless of where your road trips take you this summer, give yourself ample time on the road, plan out your route, and be courteous to other drivers. After all, we are all part of a larger driving community with the same goal of arriving safely at our destination.