Safe Holiday Travel - Getting from Here to There
There are many reasons why you look forward to the holiday season: good food, good friends and good cheer. It’s also the time to gather with family and friends from near and far. If you will be travelling to be with friends or loved ones, remember to take extra care and caution on Alberta’s roads this festive season.
"Despite generally good winter driving conditions so far this year, you still need to be prepared for slippery roads, heavy snowfall, drifting snow, freezing rain and poor visibility," says Jeanette Espie, executive director of Alberta Transportation’s Office of Traffic Safety. "These hazards are an inevitable part of travel in Alberta during this season."
Have your vehicle tuned and winterized, the tires changed and the emergency road kit checked before you make a long trip. Before heading out, check the weather and road conditions so that you are better prepared for the journey ahead or to adjust your travel plans. It is important to let someone know your travel route and schedule. After completing these tasks, you can fully focus on being alert and remembering what to watch for and do in the event that you encounter hazardous situations.
Once you are on your way, if winter driving conditions prevail, here are a few tips and safety reminders:
- Travel at a safe speed, which will probably be slower than the posted speed limit. Be aware that driving too slow for the road conditions can also be hazardous to you and other road users.
- Pull over or stop in a nearby town or rest area if weather conditions are so bad that you do not feel you can drive safely. If you’re on a highway, pull the vehicle over as far as possible on the right shoulder and use your four-way flashers and any other reflective devices you may have.
- Increase your following distance to give yourself more time and space to react to the unexpected.
- Pay extra attention and use utmost caution at exit ramps and on bridge decks. These spots can become exceptionally icy during and after a snowfall.
- Keep visible. Always drive with your lights on.
- Avoid sudden moves. Indicate your intention to turn early as vehicles, particularly larger trucks, require more stopping distance on slippery roads.
- Be alert and scan the road. Look for the flashing lights of stalled vehicles on the roadside and the flashing amber and red lights of snow plows.
- Don’t pass when roads are icy.
- Avoid overtaking large vehicles and snow plows unless absolutely necessary. The loose snow behind a plow or semi-trailer makes visibility poor and passing dangerous.
- Allow more time for all driving maneuvers - from stopping, changing lanes, passing a vehicle or crossing an intersection.
- Don’t drive when you’re tired or if you’re getting tense.
- Obey all warnings and road closure information.
"Using good driving skills and practices are the keys to safe travel," reinforces Espie. "And even though the festive season is meant to be enjoyed with family and friends, remember, there is no place you need to be worth risking your safety and the well being of others."
Packing it In - Tips for Buckling Down Gifts and Kids
- Place all gifts and loose objects in the vehicle’s trunk. Loose objects can fly through the air and injure someone in the vehicle in the event of a sudden turn or stop.
- Place a child in the centre of the back seat, if possible, as it is the safest place.
- Avoid feeding or allowing children to drink while the vehicle is moving. A sudden turn or stop can cause a child to choke.
- Try to keep children’s winter clothing to a minimum in the vehicle, as it is more difficult to securely buckle them in their safety seat. Excess clothing causes the internal harness of the safety seat to be too loose for it to effectively protect the child.
- Keep children warm by placing blankets on top of the internal harness of the safety seat.
- Make the journey more comfortable by warming up the vehicle, and therefore the metal buckles of the safety seat, before leaving home.
For more information about traffic safety, please contact the Office of Traffic Safety at (780) 422-8839 or visit www.saferoads.com.