COLUMNS: Drive smart and arrive safely

Donna Barnett’s weekly column for the Williams Lake Tribune

Driving in winter conditions can be quite challenging in our part of the province.

Temperatures can vary dramatically from minus 25 or 30 and quickly swing above zero within 24 hours.

This can play tricks with the road surface.

The best defense is to understand the main causes of crashes and what you can do to avoid them. Speed is one of the leading causes of car crash fatalities.

The faster you go, the longer it takes to slow down or stop.

Each time you double your speed, your breaking distance is multiplied by four.

In wet or icy conditions, it’s even more.

High risk driving behaviors, like failing to yield at intersections or following too closely, contributes to 43 per cent of all crashes. Tailgating leaves less time to react to unexpected changes in speed and increases your risk of being rear-ended.

Impaired driving is also a leading cause of accidents. Certainly alcohol remains a significant threat on our roads.

On average 65 people die a year in B.C. as a result of accidents involving alcohol — all of which are completely preventable.

Sadly, though, distracted driving is proving more dangerous than drinking and driving.

The number of road fatalities caused by distracted driving is now exceeding impaired motor vehicle accidents.

Research shows that drivers lose 50 per cent of their awareness when using a cell phone, and even more when sending or receiving a text.

Leaving your phone alone is one of the best ways for young drivers to adopt safe driving habits that will last a lifetime.

Last of all, confidence on the road is important, yet over confidence can be deadly, too.

Always remain in a high state of awareness.

Driving is probably the most complicated task you’ll perform in a day.

Remaining aware and driving smart will always get you home safely.

Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.

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