Saturday, 2 June 2012

Safety Tips for the Cottage-Bound Driver

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about patio parties and home get-togethers in recent days, but while it is indeed important to consider these kinds of events from the perspective of mindfulness and safety, we should also remember that safety precautions during the summer season ought to extend beyond the home as well. The relaxed pace of the summer often encourages us to put our guard down when we might well need it the most – at the beach, for instance, or in the car. In light of these worrisome trends, our topic of focus today will be safety en route to everyone’s favourite summer getaway destination: the cottage. Employ these helpful tips and you’ll find yourself in a much better position to arrive at the cottage in one piece, ready to soak up the sun with friends and family.

1. Always remember the cardinal rule of the road: distractions are a driver’s worst enemy. This issue is compounded by the fact that many cottage-going drivers will inevitably find themselves with a full car on the drive over, and extra passengers can often add to the risk of distraction. To help minimize any would-be driving distractions en route to the cottage before they even start, establish with everyone who will be riding along with you that as much fun as going to the cottage may be, it is critical to everyone’s safety that you be allowed to focus on the road. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t communicate with your passengers or add to a conversation, but make sure that your attention never leaves the task of driving and that it remains your first priority. If you can’t react at a split-second’s notice, you’re likely too distracted; obviously, then, texting and talking on cell phones should be strictly off-limits.

2. Make sure to stay within the boundaries of the law. Safe driving is lawful driving, and nowhere should this be taken more seriously than on the rural, high-speed roads leading to many Canadian cottage destinations. Be sure not to exceed any posted speed limits, and keep an eye out for signage announcing changing rules or driving conditions on the road ahead. The benefits in following these laws are actually twofold, as failing to do so would not only be unsafe but might earn you costly and record-tarnishing tickets as well.    

3. Know when to quit. If your drive is expected to take multiple hours or days, be sure to stop regularly to rest, stretch your legs and even sleep if necessary (finding a place to stay should be easy, as innumerable hotels  adorn the roads to cottage country). Having a second qualified driver to take over driving responsibilities while you rest might also be an option, but this depends entirely on who you’re travelling with.

4. Seatbelts and child harnesses should be used properly and as needed. In this case, “as needed” can also be taken to mean “at all times while the car is moving”, and the reasoning behind this should be obvious. As a driver you have an inherent responsibility to your passengers and yourself where safety is concerned, and only by having everyone use the car’s safety features properly can this responsibility be upheld. Make sure that everyone is sitting correctly as well, and that any child locks which need to be engaged are attended to before you leave.