Driving with Jens: Improving your driving in the new year

Make a resolution to never drive distracted

If you’re anything like me in the past, then your New Year’s resolutions are usually just a to do list for the first few weeks of January.

Since I began writing this column, my New Year’s resolutions have included new habits to match the subjects I’ve written about. Over the last few years I have largely succeeded in maintaining these positive changes to my driving habits.

If you make the same commitment and have resolutions around some of the topics I’ve covered in this column, we could make the roads a much safer place.

Here are a few of the most important:

Make a resolution to never drive distracted.

Distracted driving now kills more people than impaired driving. It’s a serious issue and young people are the most at risk. Young drivers today have never known driving without a cell phone. When I was a new driver the only phone we had was bolted to the wall in the kitchen. Talk to your kids about this issue and have them pledge to never drive distracted.

Distracted driving is not just about phones. It’s anything that takes your focus off the road. This can be pets, children or vehicle contents that are not secured properly.

Even taking your eyes off the road for just five seconds at 100 km/hour means your vehicle will travel over the distance of a football field. How many careless children on bikes could be zigzagging around that football field?

Make a resolution to stay within the speed limit and obey traffic rules.

Speed is a factor in most vehicle crashes. Notice I didn’t say accident. Accident suggests it was unavoidable. Most crashes could have been avoided if speed limits and traffic rules were followed without fail. Pay special attention to stop signs and traffic lights. The RCMP here in the Yukon have issued a statement that they will be focusing on traffic rules, with an emphasis on intersections.

I still see a lot of confusion at roundabouts. The basic concept of maneuvering through a roundabout is very simple – yield in and signal out. The trouble begins when drivers don’t yield to the vehicles already in the roundabout or drivers in the roundabout don’t signal to let other drivers know where they are exiting.

Make a resolution to never drive impaired.

Impaired driving unfortunately still continues to be an issue, and it just became a lot more complicated with the legalization of cannabis.

The safest number of drinks or amount of cannabis before driving is obviously none.

Make a resolution to share the road with cyclists.

It’s important to accept, and understand, that both cyclists and motorists have the same right to travel on public roads. But with that right also comes responsibility, for both motorists and cyclists. It’s vital that both groups find a safe and harmonious way to coexist on the roads.

Motorists are to blame for approximately 90 per cent of all crashes with cyclists. Cyclists don’t have seat belts, air bags, roll cages, or other safety items that motorists have. In a crash, the cyclist is more likely to be seriously injured.

Please keep an eye out for cyclists both in front, beside, and coming up behind you. Knowing that they are there in the first place will greatly reduce your chances of crashing with them. Always double-check your blind spots. Maybe instead of having your children play a game where they look out for punch buggies, have them look out for cyclists and motorcycles. Then, as adults, they will be trained to watch for both.

When passing cyclists, stay at least three feet away from them. Give plenty of room to get around them. To demonstrate this point, try standing on a busy road with your back to traffic, and slowly inch out until the passing cars are less than three feet from you. Feel the draft of larger vehicles pulling you into the road. How comfortable do you feel? Cyclists feel this way on every trip.

Through my New Year’s resolutions over the past few years, I deliberately focused on these subjects and have become a better and safer driver. I hope you will join me and make a few New Years’s resolutions about your driving habits as well.

Catch Driving, with Jens on CHON FM Thursdays at 8:15. If you have any questions or comments you can reach out to Jens Nielsen at drivingwithjens@gmail.com, Facebook or Twitter: @drivingwithjens.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Maria Metzen off the start line of the Yukon Dog Mushers Association’s sled dog race on Jan. 9. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Mushers race in preparation for FirstMate Babe Southwick

The annual race is set for Feb. 12 and 13.

The Yukon government is making changes to the medical travel system, including doubling the per diem and making destinations for medical services more flexible. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Subsidy for medical travel doubled with more supports coming

The change was recommended in the Putting People First report endorsed by the government

Chloe Sergerie, who was fined $500 under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> on Jan. 12, says she made the safest choice available to her when she entered the territory. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Woman fined $500 under CEMA says she made ‘safest decision’ available

Filling out a declaration at the airport was contrary to self-isolation, says accused

The Yukon Department of Education building in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. Advocates are calling on the Department of Education to reverse their redefinition of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that led to 138 students losing the program this year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Advocates call redefinition of IEPs “hugely concerning,” call for reversal

At least 138 students were moved off the learning plans this year

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21, 2020. Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive up to $20,000 to help recover from losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Details released on relief funding for tourism and culture non-profits

Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive… Continue reading

Most Read