Category: Safe Driving Habits

Correcting Common Myths About Driving

In Canada and Calgary, most people drive. That’s part of why our work at Calgary driving school, Derek Brown’s Academy, is important. While many people take part in this daily routine, there are several driving myths that persist regarding various aspects of driving. These misconceptions, if left unaddressed, can contribute to unsafe practices on the road. We will explore some of the most common misconceptions about driving and seek to dispel them in an effort to promote safer and more informed behaviors on the road.

Driving Myths

One prevalent misconception is that once a driver has obtained their license, they are fully equipped with all the skills and knowledge necessary for a lifetime of safe driving. In reality, driving is a dynamic activity, and road conditions, traffic laws, and vehicle technologies are subject to change. Ongoing education, like our defensive driving course, and awareness are essential for drivers to stay informed about new regulations, advancements in automotive safety features, and best practices for navigating the road. A commitment to continuous learning can help dispel the illusion of invincibility that some drivers may develop over time.

Another commonly held misconception is that multitasking while driving is manageable and harmless. With the advent of smartphones and other portable devices, the temptation to engage in activities such as texting, talking on the phone, or using social media while driving has increased. However, studies consistently show that distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents. The human brain is not designed to perform multiple complex tasks simultaneously, and attempting to do so while behind the wheel compromises reaction time and overall attentiveness. Dispelling this misconception requires a cultural shift towards prioritizing the undivided attention of drivers on the road.

Speed Limits are Important

There is also a prevailing belief that speed limits are arbitrary and that exceeding them is a victimless violation. Speed limits are carefully established based on considerations of road design, traffic flow, and safety. Calgary establishes certain speed limits in order to keep everyone, especially children, safe. Excessive speed reduces a driver’s ability to react to unexpected situations, increases stopping distances, and exacerbates the severity of accidents. Dispelling the misconception around speed limits involves recognizing them as critical safety measures rather than as inconvenient restrictions. Adhering to posted speed limits contributes significantly to overall road safety.

Furthermore, some drivers believe that they are impervious to the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This misconception can have severe consequences, as impaired driving is a leading cause of accidents and fatalities. Dispelling this belief involves not only understanding the legal ramifications but also acknowledging the potential harm that impaired driving can inflict on oneself and others. Education campaigns, stringent law enforcement, and community initiatives are crucial in challenging this dangerous misconception.

Parking Myths

Parking-related misconceptions are also common. Many drivers believe that parking in a designated handicapped spot for a short duration is acceptable, especially if they do not observe anyone in immediate need. However, handicapped parking spaces are reserved for individuals with specific needs, and occupying them without authorization is not only inconsiderate but also illegal. Dispelling this misconception involves fostering empathy and understanding for those with disabilities and recognizing the importance of accessible parking spaces in ensuring equal opportunities for all.

Dispelling common myths about driving is essential for fostering a culture of safety on the road. Education, awareness campaigns, and changes in societal attitudes are all crucial elements in challenging these misconceptions. Driving is a dynamic and evolving activity that requires continuous learning, acknowledging the dangers of distracted and impaired driving, respecting speed limits, and recognizing the significance of parking regulations. A better understanding of driving can contribute to creating a safer and more responsible driving environment for everyone.

Derek Brown’s offers courses whether you are just learning to drive or needing a brush up. Visit our home page for more information about the best driving school Calgary has to offer, Derek Brown’s.

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.

Continue reading “Defensive Driving for Winter Weather”

A Brief History of Seatbelts

The original seatbelt was invented in 1885 as a way to keep people being raised or lowered off the ground safe.  In 1911, Benjamin Fouilous attached one to his saddle while riding his horse.  If you’re thinking “that seems like it might backfire”, you may be right, but innovation has to start somewhere.  Things really picked up in the 1950s when Dr. Hunter Shelden helped create the retractable seatbelt.  This technology was debuted in cars by the Swedish company Saab.  I know, quite the Saab Story.

Continue reading “A Brief History of Seatbelts”

Seatbelt Use Around the World

seatbeltSeatbelt use is more popular in some countries than others.  It is hard to pin down the exact reasons for this difference.  Some people think the differences might have to do with education. Some people think different attitudes to safety or driving cause the issue. Some people think there is a difference in the number of seatbelts in vehicles that create the difference. A lack of education might be a good bet though.  It seems as though some people have assumptions about wearing seat belts that do not hold up to the facts.
One myth is that it isn’t necessary to wear a seatbelt if you are sitting in the back seat.  This is not true and a dangerous assumption according to the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  In fact, more people are injured who sit in the backseat for the sole reason that they are less likely to wear a seatbelt.  Countries like Japan and Italy see a significant drop off when comparing front seatbelt usage and backseat.  Japan’s drops from 98% to 68%, and Italy drops from 64% to 10%.   Canadians, on the other hand, should be proud! Canada and Germany are the countries who do best with seatbelt compliance.  In Canada, 92% wear their seatbelt in the front seat and 85% in the backseat.  In Germany, 94% of people wear seatbelts in the front seat, and 90% of the time in the backseat.

Maybe an education campaign about backseat seatbelt use would be helpful in the countries that have poor compliance.  Or maybe the law should step in and make it illegal to travel in a vehicle without a seatbelt.

Deal with Rage before it Occurs

Road Rage

Road Rage 3

Most people seldom rage against the actual road. Usually it is other drivers, the police, construction work; and, occasionally, back-seat drivers that make us glower with rage.

Indeed, there are roads that induce rage. A typical example is Calgary’s Blackfoot Trail where it merges with Deerfoot Trail. Where else in the world is it necessary to post signs reading: All Drivers Have Equal Right to the Road; Get Ready to Merge; Leave a Space for Cars to Merge, etc. But these are directed primarily at discourteous drivers refusing to make room for merging traffic, not the road itself. Yes, these trails could have been better designed, but that’s the government’s fault, isn’t it. But, if you let yourself stew over bad government you’ll be in a rage 24/7.

The best thing to do is to deal with rage before it occurs. When you get into your car think for a moment about what could happen as you drive. Someone is likely to cut you off; you may cut someone else off when you almost miss your exit; you could receive a at single finger salute; and, you might be tempted to give one yourself. Decide that you are not going to respond in kind and, more important, that you won’t initiate the action. Be calm, relax and drive accepting whatever happens as part of life on the road.

You will arrive cool and collected perhaps able to have a chuckle over what fools some people are.

Another way to prevent road rage is to go to a driving school and learn how to deal calmly with all driving situations.

Derek Brown’s Academy of Driving is a Calgary Driving School.

How to Parallel Park

A photo of a long row of cars parallel parked.
Parallel parking is a skill that can come in handy.

Parallel parking was once the prime fear of every driving test victim. Not any more. What with power steering, automatic transmission, rearview cameras, ever greater efficiency of car design, and a greater number of parking lots, it is more easily accomplished and less often used by today’s drivers. Nonetheless it remains a skill well worth acquiring.

It seems counter intuitive but the easiest, most efficient and safest method is to begin by backing into the selected space. Nosing in requires a lot more backing and filling accompanied by head twisting, shifting and, usually, a lot of cussing. Remember people are watching and laughing.

So, here it is. Pull up exactly parallel to the car parked in front of your selected space; shift into reverse; place your right arm along the top of the seatback (no rear view mirrors!); look directly back through the rear window and ease your car back into the space making sure you don’t hit the curb or the car parked behind you. Next, shift into drive, crank the steering wheel toward the curb and ease forward remembering to keep an an eye out in both directions. There you are, easy and done. Remember speeds greatest enemy is haste. Take it slow and you’ll finish faster and safer.

Okay, so nobody has been injured or killed parallel parking. (At least it’s rare enough to be ignored here.) However a dinked bumper can cost more than $1,000 and you are responsible for all cars damaged. That can result in a heart attack or stroke and not a little embarrassment.

Want to improve your parallel parking or other driving skills? Derek Brown’s Driving Academy can help. Take a course or in-vehicle lesson.

How to Drive in Snow Video

Here’s a short video on how to drive in snow.  The main points are this:

1. If roads are really icy or snow-covered don’t go out unless you really have to.

2. Slow down.

3. Don’t tailgate.

4. Don’t brake on curves.

Now watch it yourself.

If you would like to learn how to drive on snow or practice driving on snow with an expert, visit our driving school.

Turn Signals

An important part of safe driving, turn signals.
An important part of safe driving, turn signals.

Essential for safety, turn signals have practical uses as well. They tell other drivers and pedestrians what you intend to do. On the highway your life may depend on them. On city streets their blinking helps keep traffic moving efficiently while preventing accidents. In parking lots it alerts people you are backing out of a space or going in perhaps preventing fender benders and loud embarrassing arguments.

That’s right, parking lots. When was the last time you used your turn signals in a parking lot? Never? Well, think about it. Wouldn’t you appreciate knowing what other cars are going to do while creeping along looking for an open space? When you spot a blinking signal up the line you a space is gone or one is opening up. It’s time for a sigh of relief or or a mild curse.

Most important, remember to put those turn signals blinking when changing lanes while speeding along a freeway or busy through street. The number one cause of road rage is cutting someone off by failing to signal a lane change. More to the point it is the number one cause of accidents and at 110 kph or 80 kph on a city through-way it is an excellent way to die.

Safe driving means staying safe, staying alive, not having accident.  Derek Brown’s Driving Academy can help you stay safe.