Whether you’re new behind the wheel, a pedestrian or a seasoned pro, driving impacts every Canadian. With Canada’s Road Safety Week just around the corner (May 17 to 23), it’s time for us all to consider how we can make our roads safer. According to the Canadian Transportation Safety Board, there are around 160,000 car accidents annually—that’s approximately 439 accidents every day! And according to a recent CAA poll, impaired, distracted and aggressive driving are the top road safety threats in Canada. To help get the word out about road safety, Chevrolet teamed up with former Canadian race car driver, judge on Canada’s Worst Driver and auto safety expert Philippe Létourneau to share his tips and learnings from his experience as a seasoned driver. We chatted with Philippe to find out more. —Noa Nichol
Why is it an important time for Canadians to consider how we can make our roads safer?
It is always an important time for Canadians to consider road safety. Ahead of Canada’s Road Safety Week from May 17 to 23, it is important for us to raise awareness on how drivers and pedestrians can help make roads safer as it impacts us all.
Who is responsible for making our roads safer drivers alone, or others as well? Why?
It is the responsibility of everyone on the roads whether it’s a new driver, pedestrians or seasoned pro. Following road laws and regulations is the mandate for all parties to ensure safer roads. When drivers and pedestrians are aware of themselves, each other and their surroundings it helps ensures that fewer accidents happen.
What are some of the top road safety threats in Canada?
The top road safety threats in Canada are impaired, distracted and aggressive driving according to a recent CAA poll. The Canadian Transportation Safety Board reports that there are around 160,000 car accidents annually—that’s approximately 439 accidents every day.
Many modern vehicles are equipped with safety features. Do these actually make our roads safer? Why or why not?
With road safety on our minds, we begin to ask ourselves, “Do safety features in vehicles actually help make the roads safer?” According to a poll by Car Gurus, 70 per cent of Canadians believe driving assistance features make travelling by car safer.Chevrolet’s advanced safety technologies, available in all Chevrolet vehicles, are designed to help drivers make a huge impact to the safety of Canadians. In fact, Chevrolet’s safety features help reduce distracted driving, help reduce insurance premiums and help teen drivers stay alert and safe.
What’s the difference between technology that helps keep drivers in control while in the vehicle versus technology that allows the vehicle to take control?
There is not much difference between technology that helps keeps drivers in control and technology that allows the vehicle to take control. The biggest takeaway in all technology in vehicles is knowing how/when to use it and also as a driver being extremely aware of these features and your surroundings. These features aren’t meant to drive the car but to assist on making the journey easier. For example, Chevrolet offers SuperCruise, a true hands-free driving experience, detecting when drivers may not be paying attention to the road ahead, the steering-wheel light bar flashes green to prompt you to return your attention to the road.
What are three things you wish every driver knew about vehicle safety features and their use?
- Tip #1: Driving position. Sit close to the steering wheel to maximize control. NASCAR drivers sit very close to the wheel because the closer you are to the wheel, the easier it is to maneuver your vehicle. Position your seat close enough so you can comfortably operate the steering wheel, break, and gas pedals properly.
- Tip #2: Wear your seat belt correctly. The simple mechanism of wearing a seat belt correctly can save your life in an accident if worn correctly. Ensure you fasten the lap and shoulder belts tight across your body.
- Tip #3: Know your brakes. The anti-lock brake system (ABS) allows you to brake hard and steer without locking up the wheels. This is a sensation that most people are not familiar with. Remember, this system is not failsafe, so please always stay alert.
What are your top road safety tips and learnings from your experience as a seasoned driver?
‘’Look where you want to go.’’ Did you know that 80 per cent of all accidents could be avoided if a driver had one more second to react to the impending collision? In this case, it’s important to be proactive, not reactive as a driver. I recommend that every driver look 500 meters ahead on highways and 2 blocks ahead on city’s street. This way, you will get a feel for the traffic pattern, and you will be able to recognize any potential problems.
Final fun question: what’s your favourite new vehicle safety feature?
My favourite vehicle safety feature is the Side Blind Zone Alert. It helps me with lane changes so I’m aware of vehicles or movement around me. Although we must check as well, it makes me feel safe that I have an extra set of eyes.