Are you paying attention? Like, really paying attention?
SGI is reminding drivers, distraction and inattention go beyond what you do with your phone, and while talking, texting, swiping and selfies can take your attention away from the act of driving, of course, if you’re not careful, countless other activities can also make the difference between life or death, or between having disposable income or paying a hefty ticket.
From the burger you're trying to eat, the purse you're digging through, the lipstick you're applying in your rearview mirror, to your friend in the passenger seat showing you the latest Taylor Swift-Travis Kelce meme, anything could distract you from the upcoming intersection, and from noticing an SUV ahead of you, which has suddenly stopped to allow some pedestrians to cross the street.
"The act of driving requires focus and concentration," said J.P. Cullen, Chief Operating Officer of the Auto Fund. "Drivers need to pay attention to what other vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians are doing while steering, braking, signaling, and watching for traffic lights, signs and road hazards. When distractions break a driver's concentration, the risk of a serious or even fatal collision increases dramatically."
The Traffic Safety Spotlight for both January and February is focused on how to avoid collisions.
The best place to start actively avoiding accidents is by avoiding distractions.
Really paying attention can remove the main risks of human error. Since a distracted driver is significantly more likely to make a mistake, the penalties for distracted driving start with a $580 ticket and four demerits, which only go up for repeat offenses.
"It’s pretty simple: when you’re in control of a 2,500-kg vehicle traveling at 50 km/h, it’s important to be alert and give driving your full attention," said SGI in a press release.
Drivers should not only take a moment before driving, to consider any potential disruptions to their focus, and eliminate anything - in advance - that could be a distraction.
Cyclists and pedestrians are also urged to pay attention, just in case drivers aren't doing so.
While drivers need to be alert so they can keep vulnerable road users like cyclists and pedestrians safe, those on foot or two wheels can do their part to avoid a collision with a vehicle.
SGI reminds us that even if you have the right of way, you still need to be cautious.
Pedestrians need to avoid jaywalking, or stepping out from between parked vehicles, crossing only at crosswalks. Be sure to look both ways before crossing roads, making eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you. Also, heed any 'Don't Walk' signals.
Cyclists should be especially cautious at intersections, particularly when making left turns. Cyclists are smaller and oncoming drivers don’t always see them, which is why using arm signals when turning and changing lanes is key for safety on bicycles, as is wearing a helmet and reflective clothing.