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9 Simple Tips Every Driver Should Know

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Here’s a refresher on some ways to avoid the unexpected on your next drive

As many of us return to our normal commutes and leisure drives, time in the car is once again becoming an important part of daily routines. It’s how we get to work or school, how we visit friends and family, and how we take those unforgettable road trips. But that freedom also comes with risk: There were more than 70,000 vehicle crashes that caused injuries in Canada in 2020, and more than 1,500 crashes that caused fatalities.1

Of course, Members with an eligible OnStar plan*1 know they have access to OnStar Emergency-Certified Advisors*41 in the case of the unexpected. Just push your red Emergency button inside your vehicle or within the OnStar Guardian™ app*58 to speak to an Advisor, who can notify First Responders.

Even with the added peace of mind that comes with having OnStar on your side, it’s important to take steps to prevent problems on the road. For Canada Road Safety Week (May 17–23, 2022), we’re sharing a few reminders about the simple steps you can take to help avoid the unexpected. (And, of course, these are important things to remember all year long!)

Here are nine tips all drivers should follow out on the road.

#1: Stash away distractions

Being preoccupied with eating, music playlists or talking on the phone is a dangerous way to drive. According to Transport Canada, distracted driving contributes to an estimated one in five fatal crashes and more than a quarter of crashes involving serious injuries.2 If you can’t give the road ahead your undivided attention, safely pull over or ride as the passenger. Stashing your phone in the glove box is a good way to keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road at all times.

#2: Don’t drive tired

It can be tempting to keep driving for a few hours more on a long road trip, or to make a planned journey even if you feel exhausted. However, driving while tired or even just drowsy can increase your risk of being involved in a crash. On long journeys, take a break every couple of hours or anytime you feel sleepy behind the wheel. And don’t rely on coffee, sugar or other stimulants to keep you alert.

#3: Take advantage of daylight

Driving at night can be risky, due to reduced visibility and drowsy drivers. While it’s not always possible, try to adjust your journey time to drive during daylight rather than at night; it can make the journey less stressful and potentially less dangerous. Keep your vehicle’s lights in good condition, too, and be sure your headlight switch is turned on or to “auto” at night.

#4: Drive smoothly

Instead of accelerating up to a red light, take your foot off the gas and coast for a few seconds before braking. In fact, driving smoothly and carefully is a good tip for all aspects of driving, including steering around corners.

#5: Check your vehicle
NEED SOME ASSISTANCE? We’ve got a quick reminder of the five steps to take when you need Roadside Assistance. Learn More

Just as you need a checkup at the doctor from time to time, so does your vehicle. For instance, regularly check that all your vehicle’s fluids are topped off and your tires are correctly inflated. If you have a Connected Services plan*1 and your vehicle is properly equipped, you can also check your vehicle’s tire pressure and estimated fuel level through your vehicle mobile app*20 — you can even schedule service through the app, too. Remember, if you do encounter a problem like a flat tire, dead battery or another issue requiring a tow, simply push your blue OnStar button (or call us at 1.888.466.7827) to request Roadside Assistance.*13 (Towing services have additional fees.) You can also request Roadside Assistance through your vehicle mobile app or the OnStar Guardian app. Download the Guardian app to get started today.

#6: Check the weather
WHEN A WINTER ROAD TRIP GOES AWRY Listen to the story of a family who almost became stranded during a winter drive through Canada in our podcast, Tell Me What Happened. Hear the Story

At any time of year, poor driving conditions can clog up the roadways and make for a more dangerous trip. Before you leave, check the forecast to see if inclement weather is headed your way. Leaving a bit earlier or later could make a big difference. In winter, be sure to have low-temperature washer fluid and an ice scraper in your vehicle. In some provinces, you’re also required to equip your vehicle with winter tires to help provide better traction in slippery conditions.

#7: Always look right

When making a right-hand turn, many people only look left. But if you’re turning right onto a two-lane road, you should also look right and make sure a car is not using your lane to pass. It may sound like a small thing, but this extra second could help avoid a head-on collision.

#8: Slow it down

There are many complicated algorithms that all find one simple truth: Speeding doesn’t save significant time. But it can eat up your fuel efficiency, put you at risk of a ticket and even increase your chances of having a crash. Data show 27 percent of road fatalities in Canada involve speeding.3 So observe posted speed limits and ease off the gas a little bit.

#9: Look out for others

As an OnStar Member, you have the ability to act as a Good Samaritan when you see somebody else having difficulty on the road — even if they’re not an OnStar Member. Whether you see something as minor as a stray animal on the roadway or a flooded road, or as serious as a vehicle crash or downed power line, simply push your red Emergency button*12 to report the issue. Read more about how one OnStar Member acted as a Good Samaritan on the road.

1 Transport Canada, Canadian Motor Vehicle Traffic Collision Statistics: 2020

2 Transport Canada, Distracted Driving

3 Transport Canada, Road Safety in Canada