You can’t ever be fully protected when you get behind the wheel. But there’s a lot you can do to make better informed decisions.
High-risk driving behaviours, like failing to yield, increase our chances of being in a crash.
High-risk driving includes the following behaviours: speeding, failing to yield, ignoring traffic control devices, following too closely and improper passing.
Failing to yield
Sadly, failing to yield the right of way is a huge problem – it’s one of the leading causes of crashes that result in injuries or deaths. Intersections are hot spots for failure-to-yield crashes – they’re busy locations where a number of road users need to cross paths and share space.
Pedestrians are perhaps at the greatest risk when drivers fail to yield in intersections, specifically when drivers are making left turns.
When turning left, carefully scan crosswalks and check over your shoulder. Don’t let pedestrians be your blind spot.
Don’t count on others to obey the rules of the road, or to make allowances for you.
It may not always be easy to decide who has the right-of-way at intersections. Signs and traffic signals often help determine who needs to yield to whom. If in doubt, always be ready to give the right of way. You can learn more in our Learn to drive smart guide.
Ignoring traffic-control devices
It can seem tempting to roll through a stop sign or other traffic control device, but doing so puts you and other road users at risk.
When you’re approaching a light that’s been green for a while, prepare yourself to stop if the light changes.
Remember that yellow lights mean you must stop unless it’s unsafe to do so.
Be sure to come to a complete stop at stop signs and red lights, even when turning right.
Following too closely
Tailgating not only leaves you less room to stop in an emergency, it increases your risk of being rear-ended by another vehicle.
Always leave a safe following distance to give yourself more time to react to the unexpected.
You need a following distance of at least two seconds in good weather and road conditions.
Allow at least three seconds when you’re behind a large vehicle that could block your vision or a motorcycle that could stop very quickly.
Speeding reduces your reaction time, and the faster you go, the longer it takes to stop.
Speed is one of the most frequently cited contributing factors in police-reported crashes.
Speed reduces your reaction time, heightening your risk of being involved in a crash if you need to brake suddenly.
Being more realistic about travel times can reduce your risk of getting in a crash as well. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination so you don’t feel the need to rush.
Speed limits are intended for optimal conditions. The speed you’re going should be relative to the road and weather conditions.
Passing can be dangerous, especially when your line of sight is obscured.
If you’re planning to pass, make sure you can do it safely and legally. Keep within the speed limit and communicate clearly by using your signals.
Do not use the right lane to pass. Pass only if there is no oncoming traffic.
Before you pass a vehicle, be sure to signal, mirror check and shoulder check.
Ensure you can see the vehicle you’ve passed in your mirrors before pulling back in front of it.
When you pass or change lanes in front of a truck, make sure to leave extra room before pulling back in.
Always stop and yield to school buses, watch for children, and drive very slowly around parked school buses.