Is your son learning to drive while your mother is becoming more anxious on the road than she has been in the past? Do you know how to help each of them improve their driving skills? Maybe you’ve forgotten some of the key theories from your own driving training days as well. Here are some driving tips and reminders of common practices you may have forgotten since getting your driver’s license.
Checking the blind spot and using the rear-view and side mirrors—a generation gap
“In my day, we were told that if we adjusted our mirrors properly and used them effectively, there was no need for us to turn our head to check the blind spot,” says Mary, a 73-year-old Windsor resident. Mary learned the truth the hard way when she had to take a road test after a fender bender last winter; she had to take specially designed driving lessons for seniors to regain her full driving privileges.
Why it’s important – A proper blind spot check is required to make safe lane changes and to see smaller vehicles such as scooters, motorcycles and bicycles. Younger people have learned from the get-go to share the road with cyclists and motorcycle riders, and the same habits should be adopted by drivers of all ages.
When to stop and when to go—other than at traffic lights
“When I come to a four-way stop, I try not to arrive at the same time as the other driver because I know I’ve forgotten the rule,” admits Mark, a 35-year-old Toronto driver. Mark knows that the first driver to arrive at a stop sign has the right of way, whether the driver is turning or going straight. But he’s forgotten, as many of us have, that the car with no one to its right should go first when the vehicles arrive at the same time.
Why it’s important – Hesitation can lead to fender benders. Giving way out of courtesy seems like a good reaction, but the fact is, people often misunderstand the signs.
What lane to turn into—follow the line
“Keeping in the same lane when you turn, whether there’s someone beside you or not—I’m not sure if this is something I’d forgotten or whether I ever knew the rule,” Mary reflects. Mary learned some things in her course that somewhat surprised her. For example, if you’re in the extreme left lane and you’re turning left at an intersection, you have to continue in that lane. You can’t use the opportunity to move into the lanes to your right.
Why it’s important – The same principles apply for skiing. People behind you are anticipating where your vehicle will be going. This will help them steer their own vehicle. When someone performs two manoeuvres at once, it’s harder to anticipate what they’re going to do.
When to move forward—don’t block the intersection
“When I’m travelling at rush hour and I wait for there to be space on the other side of the intersection before moving across the intersection, I often get honked at and even passed aggressively,” 28-year-old Waterloo resident, Catherine, complains. She’s right: “Even if a traffic signal allows for it, the driver can only move through an intersection if there is enough space to not block the intersection.” (SAAQ Knowledge Test) Drivers who try to push Catherine into blocking the intersection are in the wrong, and she is right not to do it.
Why it’s important – It avoids gridlock in the intersection when the light changes.
Rule to keep in mind
It’s illegal to hold a cellphone even at a red light. To use a cellphone, or even to touch it, you need to be stopped in a spot where parking is permitted.
What and who to consult to stay safe
The Ministry of Transportation publishes a Driver’s handbook that can be purchased on their website. More information about government-approved driving schools, the senior driver renewal program and details about demerit points can be found on the Ministry’s website.