Senior Scene May 16,2016

May 17th to 23rd is National Road Safety Week in Canada and this year, the Canada Safety Council wants to remind Canadians of the importance of proper ergonomics behind the wheel.

Developing a musculoskeletal or repetitive strain injury is much easier than it would appear, and these can in fact leave you at a higher risk for car crashes. A significant factor in injury is when a driver maintains a posture that causes them to reach forward or forces them to use awkward motions to control the vehicle.

Here are some steps you can take to reduce risk of inuring yourself:

  • Maintain a proper posture while seated, ensuring that your knees and hips are level and that you can reach the pedals and instruments without having to come away from the back of the seat.
  • Aim to have your seat inclined at between 110-120 degrees, which will reduce the pressure on the discs in your back.
  • If your vehicle is equipped with a lumbar support, adjust it so your back is evenly supported.
  • The steering wheel should be close enough to you and low enough that you do not have to strain your neck and upper back by reaching.
  • Ensure your mirrors are properly adjusted to prevent straining your neck to use them.
  • Where possible, break up your driving. Take small breaks every two hours or so — it is better to arrive at your destination on time and well than to get there early, but in pain and stiff.

A few years ago, the Canada Safety Council focused their National Road Safety week campaign on distracted driving. From cell phones and global positioning systems (GPS) to iPod players and your morning coffee, distracted road users is an issue facing all Canadians. Whether you are a driver, a motorcyclist, a pedestrian or a cyclist, road user distractions affect everyone. Keep your eyes on the road and on other road users. Be vigilant and stay aware of your surroundings at all times.

Studies show that a driver using a cell phone is four times more likely to be in a crash than a driver focused on the road. Text messaging takes a driver’s eyes away from the road for 4.6 seconds over a six-second interval. This compares to driving an entire length of a football field without looking at the road while travelling 90 kilometres per/hour.

Here are a few basic safety tips from Canada Safety Council:

  • Avoid unnecessary distractions and always make the driving task your top priority.
  • Keep both hands on the wheel or the handle bars and keep your eyes on the road and looking for potential hazards.
  • Turn your phone on silent so you are not tempted to answer it if you receive a call or a message.
  • Learn how to program and operate your hands-free device without the need to look at it.
  • Drive defensively; watch out for other road users who are not paying attention.
  • Always be on the lookout for and yield to vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists), even if they do not have the right-of-way.
  • Be prepared for inexperienced and vulnerable road users to appear unexpectedly at both intersection and non-intersection locations, on both urban and rural roadways.

Be safe. Be aware. Take care out there.