Young drivers have the highest number of collisions. Seniors aged 80 and over have the second highest rate based on amount of driving. Because seniors are more fragile, they are more likely to be injured or die as the result of a motor vehicle collision.
Seniors also tend to be more involved in certain types of collisions. By being aware, you can develop strategies for avoiding or dealing with these situations.
Areas of special concern include:
- Backing up
- Turning (particularly left turns)
- Yielding (right-of-way)
- Following distance
- Entering and exiting roadways, merging
- Maintaining lane position and speed
- Reading road signs
- Paying attention to traffic lights and stop signs
- Responding to fast paced situations
While driving can be challenging at times, the good news is that there is a lot that you can do to ensure your own safety and the safety of others while still enjoying the benefits of driving. In addition to the tips already covered, knowing the rules of the road is key to driving safety.
The examples below are taken from the Official Driver’s Handbook published by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. This is the handbook that you studied to take your written test.
When backing up (or into a parking space) remember to:
- Move slowly
- Make sure that you are using the correct gear and foot pedal
- Check the way is clear. Always look for pedestrians or cyclists
- If going straight back or to your right, turn your body and head to the right and look back
- If backing to the left, turn and look over your left shoulder
- Always check the opposite shoulder
- If you are turning as you back up, check to make sure that the front of your car has lots of room and will not hit anything
Slow down as you approach. Look for traffic, yield signs, stop signs, traffic lights, cyclists and pedestrians.
There are two main types of intersections: controlled and uncontrolled. Controlled intersections have traffic lights, yield signs or stop signs. On a green light, drive through the intersection at a steady speed. If the light has been green for some time, be prepared to stop. If the road ahead of the intersection is blocked with traffic, remember to stop before entering the intersection so that you will not block traffic if the light changes.
At uncontrolled intersections all cars must stop. If two cars approach the intersection at the same time, the car to the right goes first.
The proper way to make a right turn includes:
- Start and end in the right hand lane
- Signal well in advance
- Look ahead, then left and right
- Then look to the left again
- Check your right side blind spot
- Make the turn
The proper way to make a left turn includes:
- Signal well in advance
- Move into the left-hand lane, when clear
- Look ahead, left, right and left again
- Check your blind spot
- Make the turn when the way is clear
- If making the turn from a stop, keep your wheels pointed straight until ready to make the turn
- When the turn is complete, move back into the right lane when it is safe to do so
Keep in mind that you can sometimes make three right turns (going around the block in the same direction) rather than a left turn.
The “2 second rule” helps you determine a safe following distance in ideal driving conditions. Due to slower reaction time, older drivers should use the “3 second rule”.
- Pick a marker on the road ahead, such as a road sign or telephone pole
- When the rear of the vehicle ahead passes the marker, count “one thousand and one, one thousand and two and one thousand and three”
- When the front of your car reaches the marker, stop counting
If you reach the marker before you count to “one thousand and three,” you are following too closely. In poorer weather or road conditions, allow more time (distance) for safe stopping.
Merging Into Traffic
The correct way to merge into traffic includes:
- Check your blind spot when you are on the entrance ramp
- As you enter the acceleration lane, signal, increase your speed to match the speed of the other vehicles
- Merge smoothly
If you find freeways stressful and the speed too fast, use less busy streets with lower speeds to get where you want to go. Plan ahead.
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