Spring is in the air, and you’re feeling safer on the road now that all those snowstorms are in your rearview mirror. While winter driving has plenty of problems, don’t let the warmer weather fool you: spring driving can be just as risky. Here are five reasons why spring driving can be dangerous:
- Cyclists and pedestrians. You’re not the only one who is eager to enjoy the spring breeze; as the weather warms, you’ll notice more people out and about. Unfortunately, sharing the road with pedestrians and cyclists can be dangerous for everyone involved. Pedestrian traffic fatalities represent almost 60 percent of annual traffic deaths. While municipalities across Canada look for ways to address road safety, it’s important for drivers to play their part in safely sharing the road.
- Rain and flooding. April showers might bring May flowers, but they can also cause slick, flooded roads that make spring driving dangerous. Treat wet roads like icy roads: give yourself more time to get to your destination, leave more space between you and other drivers, and drive at or below the speed limit – whatever allows you to maintain control of the vehicle. Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation advises that you avoid travelling on flooded roads, but says that if you have to, you should test your brakes immediately afterwards and take your car in for servicing right away if they’re not working properly.
- Potholes. Cold weather causes asphalt to contract and crack, and then the multiple freeze-thaw cycles that occur in the spring create potholes. When you approach a pothole, don’t swerve – you could hit it at an odd angle that causes more damage than simply driving straight over it. Instead, slow down before you reach the pothole, and then take your foot off the brake before going over it (braking can tilt your car forward and put pressure on your front suspension). Also, driving on properly inflated tires will help protect them on the bumpy spring roads.
- Your car. After a long, harsh winter, your car probably needs a little extra care to get in tip-top shape for spring and summer. Spring is a great time to book a service appointment for your car to make sure your windshield wipers are in working condition, your tires are properly inflated, your brake pads are in good shape, and your oil, radiator, brake and transmission fluid are topped up. And if you’re wondering when you should remove your winter tires, experts suggest waiting until the weather is consistently above 7 degrees celsius
- You’re distracted. Regardless of the season, the leading cause of accidents in many provinces across Canada is distracted driving. Data from Ontario shows that a driver using their phone is four times more likely to be in a collision than a driver focused on the road. Even if you avoid a collision, you could still be charged with distracted driving if you’re caught, resulting in a fine and demerit points. In addition, a distracted driving offence on your record could result in an increase to your car insurance premium when it’s time to renew.
Don’t let these dangers take the spring out of your step! Just remember that no matter what the season, you always need to be completely focused when you’re behind the wheel, whether it’s to watch out for black ice in the winter, potholes in the spring, or cyclists in the summer.