Summertime Driving Challenges

Summer is finally here?  The kids are out of school, families begin to plan and leave on holidays and a whole new list of challenges present themselves to drivers.

What challenges does summertime driving present on and off the job?

Kids are out of school and can be anywhere…they are excited to be out in the sunshine playing and may not take care to look both ways before entering the street

Many more cyclists can be expected.  These include: those little ones just learning and wobbling around with or without training wheels, experienced cyclists touring the countryside loaded with camping gear, racers training for the next event, recreational cyclists on mountain bikes

  • Slow moving recreational vehicles driven by folks who are less than experienced in these larger vehicles
  • Tourist drivers unfamiliar with roads and possibly driving slow and lost
  • Pedestrians of every type and description
  • Tourists, if you are in an area where there are attractions, campgrounds or resorts;
  • Sightseers around landmarks or parks
  • People out for a cool evening stroll
  • Excessive heat can affect drivers in negative ways

Summertime can also create challenges for vehicles.  So if you are planning, plan to have your vehicle checked.

What are the best ways to manage these challenges?

Children

Anywhere that there may be children around, slow down and take extra care to think and look ahead.

Anticipate where children may be coming from and cover your brake if you are in doubt at all about where they may come from.

Remember, we all teach our kids to be safe around traffic, but some learn faster than others!

Cyclists

Dealing with cyclists can be frustrating, particularly if they are slow and in your lane where you don’t have room to pass.

Every cyclist has different skill levels and capabilities and a different attitude towards traffic.  When you encounter a cyclist on the road, remember to SHARE THE ROAD responsibly.  They are not permitted to ride on the sidewalks and gravel shoulders are difficult and dangerous for most road bikes; they are required to be on the roadway and it’s everyone’s responsibility to share.

Take a breath, be patient and wait till you can pass safety.  NEVER crowd a cyclist as you pass.

Recreational Vehicles

You may be in a hurry to get to your destination, but remember these motorists are on holiday!  They may be less concerned about time and speed.

The driver may not be experienced in this size vehicle.  Watch out, particularly for rentals/Motorhomes, often these drivers have no experience at all!

If you are driving in mountainous areas, you may find that many Motorhomes are underpowered, overloaded and SLOW!  Be patient with these drivers as they are likely going uphill as fast as they can!

If you are the Driver, take every opportunity to pull over if you are holding up traffic and let others pass.  This is much safer than waiting for the guy behind you to attempt an unsafe pass.

Tourists

Maintaining patience behind a lost tourist is challenging but it’s the only option.  Give them a break and time to figure out what they are doing.

When you are traveling, check your maps first and use a satenav.  Pull over if you are lost or uncertain to re-orient yourself.  Avoid last minute turns or lane changes.  It’s safer to go around the block or come back if you miss a turn.

Don’t ruin your holiday with an accident!

Pedestrians

Pay particular attention in summer for pedestrians.

Scan intersections and make sure that you should check before turning.  In heavily trafficked tourist areas, keep your speed very low.  Be aware that around lakes, beaches and parks, some of the pedestrians may have been drinking and taking chances.

Vehicle Preparation

Check your vehicle to make sure that it’s ready for summer driving.

One of the most common failures is the cooling system.  Check your coolant levels regularly and top up when needed.

If you are towing a trailer, make sure that your vehicle is rated to tow the weight and has the capability to slow and stop it on the downgrades.

Make sure that you secure camping or recreational equipment in the vehicle so that it doesn’t move around or obstruct vision.

Have a great holiday!

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Cyclists!

Other road users that drivers need to be aware of on the road are pedestrians, motorcycles and of particular note, cyclists.  Cyclists can come from a full spectrum of ages and abilities.  Like drivers, cyclists must also follow the regulations for road users as riding on the footpath is prohibited.

What types of cyclists can be expected on roadways?

  • Young children learning and wobbling around with or without training wheels
  • Experienced cyclists commuting to and from work
  • Recreational cyclists on mountain bikers or cruisers.
  • Racers training for the next event

What challenges do bicyclists pose to drivers?

  • Dealing with cyclists can be frustrating, particularly if they are slow and in your lane where you don’t have room to pass.
  • Every cyclists has different skill levels and capabilities and a different attitude towards traffic
  • They are not permitted to ride on footpaths and gravel shoulders are difficult and dangerous for most cyclists; they are required to be on the roadway and it’s everyone’s responsibility to share
  • Some don’t all use hand signals to communicate intent

How does a cyclist communicate when on the road?

While cyclists are required (like other road users) to signal, they also need to keep their hands stationed on the handle bars at all times for steering and to control the brakes.  This hinders their ability to use hand signals to communicate intents such as a left or right turn.  Being aware of a cyclist’s bike lane position will help a driver anticipate the cyclist’s next movement.

What can you do as a motorist?

  • Keep Your Eyes Up: It’s tempting to look down and over the hood of the car at the center line or tail lights in front of you.  It’s much more effective to keep your eyes up
  • Eye Lead Time: Look 12 to 15 seconds ahead of where your  vehicle is at any given time and actively search for cyclists.
  • Move Your Eyes: This takes practice and intent.  Look left, right, ahead and into mirrors.  Cyclists are small and difficult to see and they may position themselves in your blind spots.  Moving your eyes is particularly important to see to the side because your peripheral vision becomes increasingly ineffective as your speed increases.
  • See the Big Picture: By moving your eyes, you get a ‘big picture’ perspective of the traffic environment and your place in it. Manage your space effectively and don’t crowd cyclists particularly as you pass
  • Eye Contact: The way to know if a cyclist sees you is to make eye contact with them.  If they are looking at you and you see them making eye contact with you, you can be fairly sure (but not guaranteed) that they see you.

Keep a sharp eye out for cyclists and when passing them, leave lots of room.  One small wobble or bump can send them right into your path.  The best plan is to wait until you can move way over into the other lane and not pass so closely or squeeze them towards the curb or ditch. New riders are focused on controlling the bike and are easily startled by closely passing cars.  This can cause them to jerk the handlebars and lose control!

For more information please go to The Highway Code rules for cyclists

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