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Navigating the road to safer communities

Recent polls reveal that Canadians are increasingly worried about the safety of our roads. Two-thirds (65%) agree that road safety is a serious issue, compared to 59% in 2021. Even social media posts echo these findings. An Australian firm even reported that Canada has one of the lowest levels of positive social media sentiment about driving, second only to Denmark.

How can we improve our driving habits?


Drivers’ behaviours fuel safety concerns

After a lull in traffic during the pandemic, the number of car commuters in Canada just surpassed previous May 2016 records, growing to 12.8 million. However, daily travel feels far from back to normal. Advanced technology, longer commutes, and a backlog of road construction are contributing to driver distraction and road rage.

How can we create safer driving communities?

Most Canadians (66%) think addressing drivers’ behaviours would have a stronger impact on preventing collision injuries and deaths than addressing road design (34%).

Driven by confidence: the 95% fallacy

Almost all Canadians (95%) believe they are good drivers—a paradox that hinders safety. Despite desiring safe roads, we often deny our own flaws.

For example, 81% of Ontario drivers say they’ve witnessed speeding, while only 38% admit to doing it themselves. Likewise, 81% witnessed road rage, but only 6% admitted to aggressive behaviour. Other provinces have reported similar findings.

Is it time for us to reevaluate our immodesty?

“People often operate on autopilot,” says Vanessa Heichert, VP, Digital Transformation & Exploration at Wawanesa. “Much like recycling or brushing your teeth, our driving behaviours—good or bad—tend to become ingrained habits. We advocate for our Wawanesa members and our communities to embrace mindful driving. It is both our responsibility and an opportunity to offer tools that cultivate awareness of safer driving habits.”

Awareness is the place to start

Telematics, or Usage-Based Insurance (UBI), has gained popularity for its ability to raise awareness of your unique driving habits. Like using a health app on your smartwatch to track steps or heart rate, telematics apps offer valuable data insights that incent responsible and defensive driving behaviours.

Defensive driving is simply anticipating and preventing hazards by always staying alert. By employing defensive driving techniques and reducing their kilometres, Wawanesa members can actively contribute toward creating safer roads and a greener environment.

Defensive driving = community benefits

The advantages of defensive driving are extensive, affecting not only individual drivers but also regional safety and associated community costs. Staying vigilant behind the wheel can play a pivotal role in reducing:

  • Accidents: Reducing your risk of accidents also lowers community costs, such as emergency services, medical care, and insurance claims.
  • Repairs: Drivers who follow too closely and brake hard often incur more wear on their vehicle, lower resale value, and expensive brake and tire repairs.
  • Insurance costs: Low-risk drivers enjoy lower premiums, ultimately benefiting all policyholders through reduced insurance payouts.
  • Fuel: Rapid acceleration and hard braking can increase fuel usage by 40%.
  • Emissions: Reduced fuel consumption and fewer accidents contribute to a smaller carbon footprint and less environmental cleanup expenses.
  • Traffic congestion: Conscientious driving prevents traffic jams, reduces stress, and saves on fuel and road maintenance costs.
  • Healthcare strain: Fewer accidents mean fewer injuries, lessening the demand on our healthcare facilities.
  • Legal fines: Steer clear of speeding tickets. Fewer traffic violations benefit the entire community, reducing costs for law enforcement and court proceedings.
  • Community safety concerns: Good drivers and friendly roads are an important element of every attractive community.

Actionable advice for a safer commute

Safe driving doesn’t require maintaining a sluggish pace in the slow lane or obsessively scanning one’s surroundings. It’s about recognizing our current habits.

Instead of reacting with a rush of adrenaline when your GPS predicts your arrival time, practice adopting a more mindful approach with these defensive driving techniques.

Pay attention to your body
To practice gentle braking and accelerating, imagine a balloon between your foot and the pedals. In an age of “text neck” and poor posture, why worsen cervical strain with harsh movements behind the wheel?

Cruise at a steady speed to save gas
Not only can cruise control save you money at the pump, it also reduces your chance of a speeding ticket and keeps you in sync with the traffic flow.

Warm up your vocal cords to reduce tension
Singing and humming stimulate your vagus nerve, producing relaxing therapeutic benefits. Just be sure to keep your eyes and ears attuned to the road as you belt out that guilty pleasure song.

Revisit fundamental driving skills
Take turns with your family and friends assuming the role of driving instructor to reacquaint yourself with the basics of defensive driving. Do you really signal all the time, even in reverse? Is your rear-view mirror under regular scrutiny? Are your wheels pointed straight ahead while waiting to make a left turn?

Slow your mind for a tranquil journey
Fretting about arriving late or what’s happening at work can heighten stress and hazards during your commute. To alleviate impatience during slow traffic, redirect your attention inward by taking three deep belly breaths. Or try engaging with your surroundings—perhaps by checking you’re following the three-second rule for following distance—to stay in the moment and clear your mind.

Commute differently for a change
Switch things up by opting for traditional modes of travel like walking, cycling, or public transportation weekly. The simple act of breaking routine can naturally enhance your attentiveness when you are driving. You’ll help the environment, inspire your peers, and improve your physical well-being.

We all want safer communities

The quest for safer communities starts with us. By becoming more attuned to our driving behaviours, we proactively reduce risks not only to ourselves but to our communities and the environment we all share.

Ready to take the wheel toward safer roads?

Wherever you call home in Canada, contact your local Wawanesa insurance broker to find out how you can contribute to community safety while honing your driving skills. Don’t forget to ask them to review your current auto coverage to ensure you’re properly protected on the road.

Are you in Ontario? Safe driving tools, like the Wawanesa Drive Change telematics program, can provide objective insights to improve your driving habits. Contact your Wawanesa insurance broker to sign up today. Learn more about Drive Change.

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