Category: Driving Skills

Driving skill tips and news from our Calgary Driving School, Derek Brown’s Academy of Driving

Why All Season Tires Don’t Cut it For Alberta Winters

“My all season tires are good enough.” This sentence is often heard, even during Calgary winters while we fight the snowy weather on our missions to get where we’re going.

However, anyone who has experienced the benefits of winter tires knows the truth: All season tires, despite the name, are not good enough for all seasons. Most certainly not Calgary’s seasons.

“All season tires” should really be read like this:

“All season* tires (* seasonal flexibility refers to wet and dry seasons, not hot and cold.)”

This is something we tell students a lot at our Calgary driving school. This is because the defining feature of an “all season” tire is the tread patterns, which are designed to prevent hydroplaning on wet roads.

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Cars driving on a snowy highway.

Defensive Driving for Winter Weather

Some days, it seems like a lot of the drivers we share the road with are getting more and more “unpredictable”.

From parking on sidewalks and stopping for pedestrians in the pedestrian crosswalk to weaving all over the road in high-speed traffic (and any other example you can think of), it seems like we sometimes commute alongside some fairly erratic drivers.

And that’s not even taking the weather into account!

Bring in some cold and snowy weather, and these erratic drivers become even worse. What was an everyday danger on the road now becomes a veritable hazard.

That driver up ahead who drifted into the middle of 2 lanes while looking at his phone? He’s now in an uncontrolled slide across your path, headed straight into the vehicle driving to your far right. You and every other vehicle nearby are at risk of a serious collision.

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Six Winter Driving Tips

 

Use our winter driving tips on this snowy street in Calgary.

As Canadians, we like to think that we have winter driving mastered. But one look at the accident statistics after a fresh snowfall tells us otherwise. Even for those of us who have attended (or even operate) a driving school, Calgary roads can be treacherous after a fresh snowfall.

For example, this past Christmas Eve saw approx. 4cms (1.5 inches) of snow fall within a 12 hour period of time.[1] The result? Over 300 vehicular accidents throughout Southern Alberta.[2]

With this in mind, we at Derek Brown’s Academy of Driving thought it might be a good idea to write a blog post about driving safely in the winter.

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How to Prepare for a Driving Test

Some Simple Effective Hints

Photo of teen girl taking driving test to get drivers license

Driving tests can be really stressful experiences.  Here are some tips to help you get through your driving test and on the road!

First thing to remember is that there’s a written portion to the driver’s test.  Your local registry or DMV have booklets to help you study.  In Alberta, a learner’s license is called a class 7.  You can also go online to the Government of Alberta website for the booklet and practice tests. Remember to not take the written portion of the test lightly, if you fail you’ll often have a waiting period before you can take the test again, and you’ll be out the testing fee.  If you have a friend or parent to help you study, have them quiz you over the rules of the road, so you know that you’re prepared for the test.

Depending on where you live, you’ll usually have to get a learner’s permit or have some sort of driver’s education before you can take the test.  Look on your local DMV’s web site to see what kind of steps are necessary in getting a license.

Next, sign up for a beginners driving course and in-vehicle lessons with an excellent and experienced driving school like Derek Brown’s Academy of Driving.  You’ll learn from experts who know everything you need to know to become a safe and skillful driver and pass your your driving test with ease.

First start with experts, and then practice, practice, practice.  In between classes get extra practice.  Do you have a friend or a family member that is really calm behind the wheel?  Have them teach you how to drive.  People who feel calm and collected on the road and in traffic, will help you stay calm and collected in traffic.

Make sure to practice in all sorts of driving scenarios.  You’ll need to learn how to drive on the highway, freeway, in busy traffic, at night, and in any other scenario you can think of before you’ll be confident on the road.

Remember to practice your parking.  Here, again, it’s good to have a knowledgeable friend or family member help you out.  Do you know someone that pulls into a parking spot perfect every time?  Have them help you learn how to park.

Remember to remain calm about driving.  If you need more practice to be calm and safe on the road, that is perfectly okay.  Do not feel like you have to prove anything on the road.  Driving is for getting from point A to point B safely, that is it.

At a quality Calgary driving school like Derek Brown’s Academy of Driving, we have driving classes, in vehicle and simulator training that will make getting a driver’s license much easier.

How to Drive with Cyclists

City bikersCycling has become much more popular in recent years.  Bike lanes are being added to the streets of a lot of cities as lots of people hop on the bike to head into work, rather than take their car or public transportation.  But many of us never learned how to drive with cyclists next to us in a manner that allows both you and the cyclist to remain safe.  Here are some tips for driving around cyclists.

You should always be conscientious of opening your door when you’re exiting onto the street, especially if it is in a bike lane.  Cyclists often get surprised by doors on the street or in bike lanes and cannot avoid hitting them.  So, in order to preserve their bike and person and your car door, always take a look in your mirror and behind you before exiting.  Honestly though, you should really be doing this anyway as to avoid being taken out by a car.

Make sure to think about how you are going to pass a cyclist.  Nobody expects you to drive the whole time behind a cyclists doing 15, but you do have to wait until it’s a good idea to pass.  Ask yourself if there’s enough space, if there’s a stop coming up that will make it so you have to pass the cyclist multiple times, and whether the cyclist is aware of where you are in relation to them.

Just like with pedestrains in a cross walk, try to make eye contact with them so you know that they see you and you see them.  Never assume anything about the cyclist’s knowledge of you and your surroundings.

That said, you’ve probably made assumptions about how cyclists will behave on the road, and cyclists do the same to you.  So do you best to drive predictably to increase the odds that the cyclist will make the right assumption about your driving.

Try to be in the know about your locations laws about driving around cyclists.  If you do get into an accident with a cyclist and found to be at fault, that could lead to a lot more problems in your life.

If you aren’t a cyclist, talk to a cyclist buddy about what it is like to be on the road with cars.  It may give you a new perspective about what it means to share the road.

These are just some of the our driving school’tips for driving around cyclists.  Always remember to stay safe and viligant on the road.