Navigating the concrete jungle in a car can be a beast. Here’s how to cope.
1. PAY ATTENTION
Urban driving demands concentration. Imagine: on your left, bumper-to-bumper cars, buses, taxis and motorcycles. On your right, cyclists. Add to that pedestrians crossing, trucks honking and signs and signals at every turn. Why would you involve distraction as a contributing factor to that mix? One in three collisions are caused by distraction; plus, if you’re caught driving distracted, it’s a $288 ticket.
2. WATCH FOR FLASHING LIGHTS
When emergency-response vehicles such as ambulances and tow trucks are stopped with their lights on, you must slow down to 60 km/h, or the posted speed limit, to pass—whichever is slower. This also applies to the lane of traffic next to where the emergency vehicle is stopped. Traffic fines are double in these areas. Give these vehicles room to work.
3. STAY SOBER
Don’t drive after consuming alcohol or drugs. In addition to serious risk and increasing your chance of being involved in a fatal collision, impaired driving comes with hefty penalties: licence suspension and vehicle seizure starting at blood alcohol levels of .05 and criminal charges starting at levels of .08.
4. OBEY SPEED LIMITS
Posted limits are intended for ideal conditions. If it’s raining, foggy or icy, for instance, you need to slow down accordingly.
5. KEEP YOUR DISTANCE
It can be challenging not to ride other drivers’ bumpers in city traffic, but tailgating diminishes your ability to react to hazards, reduces your visibility, and raises the risk of collision. Maintain a minimum three-second distance when following another vehicle. And signal your intention to turn or change lanes well in advance.
6. RESPECT SCHOOL ZONES
Think it’s not a big deal to rip past a school at 50or 60 km/h? Pedestrian-collision survival rates improve by more than double when a vehicle is going 30 km/h versus 50 km/h. School parking lots warrant extra caution, too—keep your eyes peeled for school patrollers, and avoid stopping in school-bus zones. If you’re picking up kids, park a block away from the school to reduce risk and congestion.
Whether you’re a new driver or just want to refresh your skills, we have the right driver education course for you. Members save $80 on the cost of registration for AMA’s New Driver Programs.