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In Saskatchewan, weather conditions can change quickly. To help motorists stay safe on the road, here are some tips and information from CAA Saskatchewan:

Get a Grip on Winter: CAA’s Top Ten Safety Tips

CAA has prepared a top ten safety list for motorists and their vehicles.

  • Battery:  The battery is your vehicle’s life line.  Extreme weather weakens the battery so check it often and have it charged if necessary.
  • Block heater and cord: Make sure the cord is not frayed and is in good working condition. Always plug in when the temperature falls below -15°C.
  • Check your vehicle fluids: This includes antifreeze, brake fluid, and the window washer fluid which are all vital to safe winter travel.
  • Defrost your windows before you drive: Take the time to remove ice and snow from your vehicle.  Always pack a snow brush and window ice scraper.
  • Brakes: Have your brakes inspected thoroughly and service them if necessary. This will help to ensure better braking power especially on icy, snow covered roads.
  • Roadside Safety Kit:  Always pack extra clothing, footwear, a mobile phone with charger (for emergency use only), non-perishable food, water, a shovel, window ice scraper, and booster cables.
  • Check weather and road conditions before you travel: Allow extra time to reach your destination safely. Be prepared to reduce your speed and drive with caution. Remember to slow to 60 km/h on Saskatchewan highways for working tow truck operators and emergency personnel.
  • Fuel: Keep a full tank or at minimum a half tank of fuel. This will help reduce moisture in the gas tank plus it adds weight to your vehicle.
  • Signal Lights: Every vehicle has them. Use them in advance to communicate your driving intentions to others on the road. In low visibility, ensure your vehicle’s headlights and tail lights are turned on.
  • Check your tire pressure: The right pressure is important for traction and fuel efficiency. Check the air pressure regularly. Improper inflation can not only be dangerous, but can also cause increased tire wear resulting in added costs for replacement tires. CAA also recommends a good set of winter tires.  “The different rubber compound in winter tires allows for better traction and control,” says Scott McIntyre, VP of Automotive Services, CAA Saskatchewan. 

Here are a few more safe winter driving tips:

  • When driving on slippery roads, tires can sometimes lose their grip. Hold the steering wheel with both hands.  If you use the 9 and 3 o’clock position, you can easily straighten the tires out without oversteering. It’s the least fatiguing and has the most control.
  • Don’t use cruise control on a slippery road.  Your tires can lose their traction trying to keep to a set speed.
  • Always brake well before any turns, so the vehicle slows down in a straight line. Leave plenty of extra room for braking. If you’re driving around a curve and the car slides out from the front wheels or all of them, keep a light grip on the wheel and steer in the direction you want the vehicle to go. Don’t turn the wheel too much – when the wheels catch their grip again, you don’t want to overcorrect the turn and worsen the situation.
  • Don’t touch the brakes if your car is skidding out.
  • During a front-wheel skid, try to straighten the steering wheel. Let the car slow on its own. Look ahead down the road at where you want to go and that’s where you’ll steer to. When the tires have found their grip again, resume an appropriate speed – and probably a little slower this time.

For vehicle winter inspection, visit the CAA Car Centre at Regina Battery Depot or any facility that is part of CAA’s Approved Auto Repair Services (AARS) network across the province. Roadside safety kits are available at all CAA Stores or online. For roadside assistance, CAA Members can call 1.800.222.4357 or request the service online and also through CAA’s mobile app.
 

Tow Truck Operator Safety:

In 2007, CAA Saskatchewan worked with the provincial government to have tow trucks added to the section of the Traffic Safety Act (Tow Trucks) which requires drivers to slow to 60 km/h when passing emergency vehicles providing assistance to motorists on Saskatchewan highways.

On April 6, 2017, the Government of Saskatchewan announced new legislation allowing tow trucks to display flashing blue lights, in conjunction with amber lights on tow trucks providing roadside assistance in Saskatchewan. Adding blue lights will increase visibility from further distances on Saskatchewan highways. According to Minister Joe Hargrave, “Adding blue lights to these vehicles will alert motorists sooner, providing them ample time to slow to 60 km while passing. It will help make highways safer for all road users, and help our roadside responders make it home safely.” Saskatchewan is the first province to introduce such legislation. CAA Saskatchewan, as a member of the Roadside Responders Association of Saskatchewan, was pleased to meet with government officials and members of the association to endorse and support this new legislation.

  • Move Over: Jerry Merk, Fleet Driver, shares his story about the perils of being a tow truck operator. (CAA Saskatchewan Magazine, winter 2016 issue)
  • Steer Clear: Tow operator Harvey Britton on the delights and dangers of his job. (CAA Saskatchewan Magazine, winter 2016 issue)

Read more about tow truck operator safety here.

Distracted Driving:

Distracted driving has become a major Canadian national issue and all 10 provinces have some form of mobile phone/distracted driving legislation in place. In Saskatchewan, fines start at $280 with four demerits.

Distracting driving is defined as any distraction that takes the driver’s eyes and mind away from the road. Some common distractions include use of a mobile phone for talking, texting, emailing or surfing, reaching for a moving object, eating/drinking, or applying makeup. Distracted driving can pose a serious threat to the safety of others on the road. Eliminating preventable distractions before the driver gets behind the wheel not only makes driving less stressful, but it can also save lives.

Drivers in the Prairies More Worried Than Ever About Texting and Driving

A November 2017 CAA Saskatchewan poll found an overwhelming majority of drivers in the Prairies think texting and driving is getting worse, despite moves by law enforcement to crack down and extensive public education efforts. More than four out of five drivers (83%) believe texting while driving is a bigger problem today than it was three years ago.

Texting and driving is tied with drunk driving as the #1 road safety concern among drivers, according to CAA’s poll. A whopping 96% say that drivers who text and drive are a threat to their personal safety on the road. CAA has been tracking what worries residents when it comes to road safety for several years. Texting while driving broke into the top 10 list of concerns in 2011. Almost seven years later, views on the danger of texting and driving continue to get worse. Learn more

Here are a few surprising statistics on distracted driving and its consequences:

  • 33 per cent of Canadians admit they have texted while stopped at a red light, despite believing it is unacceptable. (CAA, 2016)
  • 10% of fatal crashes, 18% of injury crashes, and 16% of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes were distraction-affected crashes. (National Highway Safety Administration, 2015)
  • Driver distraction is a factor in about 4 million motor vehicle crashes in North America each year.
  • Distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes. (AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 2015)
  • Almost half of all people killed in teen (15-19 years old) distraction-affected crashes were teens themselves. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2013)
  • Drivers who engage in text messaging are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near crash event compared to non-distracted driving. (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, 2010)
  • About 26% of all car crashes involve phone use, including hands-free phone use. (National Safety Council)
  • Estimates indicate drivers using phones look at, but fail to see, up to 50% of the information in their driving environment. (National Safety Council)

To become an undistracted driver, CAA has prepared a few safety reminders:

  • Before you Drive: Allow plenty of travel time; stow and secure loose objects; prepare children with everything they need before driving; and, when safe to do so, park the vehicle to address any required or immediate attention.
  • While you Drive: Keep two hands on the wheel at all times; avoid eating or drinking while driving; do not groom; and, do not text, use apps, or read emails.
  • Some distractions may be unavoidable, but eliminating preventable distractions before we get behind the wheel not only makes driving less stressful, but it can also save lives.


 

Phantom Vehicles:

Once upon a time, a dim instrument panel reminded motorists that their headlights weren’t engaged. But in most new vehicles, the panel is backlit anytime the engine is running. This leads some motorists to assume their daytime running lights (DRL) are also on. Problem is, in many vehicles, DRL doesn’t include rear illumination. “Before sunrise, after sunset and in bad weather, you get what are known as phantom vehicles,” says Christine Niemczyk, CAA Saskatchewan’s director of corporate communications and public relations. These are cars that are virtually invisible from behind because their rear lights aren’t on. “It’s a pet peeve for many drivers. And it’s a safety issue due to the visibility risks.” Transport Canada has acknowledged it receives a high number of concerned letters about phantom vehicles—and is now taking steps to address those concerns. As of 2021, all new cars sold in Canada will be required to be more visible in low-light conditions, by having one of three features:

  1. Daytime running lights and taillights that turn on when the instrument panel is illuminated, and the vehicle is in operation;
  2. Headlights, taillights, and side marker lights that automatically turn on in low-light conditions;
  3. An instrument panel that remains dark until the driver manually turns on all the lights.

This isn’t the first time Canada has led the way with regard to vehicle lighting standards. In 1989, we were the first country to require automatic DRL on all new vehicles, buoyed by research showing that it could reduce crash incidence by up to 15 percent during the day.

The irony is that DRL—designed to improve visibility—can inadvertently put drivers at risk, if they believe their full lighting system is engaged by default. “It also impacts motorists following you. If they can’t see your taillights, it decreases their reaction time to brake or avoid a rear-end collision,” Niemczyk says. To increase awareness about phantom vehicles, CAA partnered with Transport Canada on the See and Be Seen campaign, launched in 2018. So how can you ensure your car is lit? Many vehicles have an “auto” option whereby sensors gauge ambient light to switch between DRL and a fully engaged headlight system; just make sure that setting is on. Look for an “A,” “Auto” or the DRL symbol on your light dial. For cars lacking an automatic option, keeping your headlights on when driving is the safest bet.

Senior Drivers:

CAA supports keeping seniors driving for as long as safely possible through a variety of initiatives:

  • The Canadian Automobile Association used decades of experience in road safety, along with expert assistance from the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists, to design a toolkit for seniors and their loved ones. Use the toolkit to assess fitness to drive under different conditions, stay safe behind the wheel, maintain driving confidence as you age, and take concrete steps to modify driving habits if needed. Learn More
     
  • CarFit, an educational program for senior drivers, provides a quick, yet comprehensive review of how well you and your vehicle work together. Personal mobility is critical for healthy aging, but ill-fitting vehicles can make it uncomfortable and unsafe to drive. Today’s vehicles have many features that offer enhanced restraints and protection, yet many drivers are unaware of those features or how to use them properly. CarFit helps to identify how the fit of your vehicle can affect your driving and how minor adjustments and adaptations can assist your changing needs. CarFit is free of charge for participants and is open to CAA Members and the public.  Sign up for a CarFit clinic at caask.ca/carfit.
     
  • 55 Alive Mature Drivers Program offered by Saskatchewan Safety Council. Contact the Saskatchewan Safety Council for more information.

Young Drivers:

CAA recognizes the critical requirement for young drivers to start their driving careers off on the right foot. CAA offers new drivers and their parents, useful reminders, tips, questions and do’s and don’ts that parents and new drivers can refer to throughout the learning-to-drive process. Learn More