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Safe driving habits that save you money

Human error is the cause of 90% of road crashes. Practicing good driving habits not only benefits your safety and the safety of others, it can also save you money and time. Keep these three habits in mind when you’re driving and help improve the experience for everyone on our roads and highways.

1. Don’t speed – it’s not worth the risk or the cost

Many people try to justify that driving faster gets you to your destination sooner. Occasionally, this may be true, but is the time you save worth the risk of a collision, injuries and fines? Consider a 25 km trip on a highway:

  • Travelling at the posted 100 km/h speed limit will take you 15 minutes

  • Travelling at 120 km/h will take you 12 minutes and 30 seconds

In this case, you save two minutes and 30 seconds. But this doesn’t factor in traffic congestion or traffic lights when you get off the highway – both of which are likely to eliminate this minor time savings.

Speeding also costs you money. In addition to the potential fines from law enforcement and the increased risk of a collision, aggressive accelerating and braking uses more fuel, and wears out your brakes and tires faster. Aggressive driving techniques can increase fuel consumption by up to 25%, which can cost a regular commuter an extra $500 per year. In addition to driving the speed limit, these techniques can help you cut fuel costs:

  • Accelerate gently

  • Coast to decelerate (by anticipating stops and traffic slowdowns)

  • Maintain a steady speed

2. Maintain proper tire pressure – it’s cost effective and safer to drive

Driving with tires that aren’t properly inflated reduces your vehicle’s handling capabilities and increases your stopping distance. It also means you’ll need to replace your tires more frequently, as under-inflated tires worsen tread wear and increase the chance of your tires rupturing. Finally, your fuel economy will suffer if you drive with the wrong tire pressure.

Thankfully, these expensive problems can be mitigated by routinely using an inexpensive tool – a tire pressure gauge – which you can get online or in the automotive section of many local retail stores. Even if your car has an electronic tire pressure monitoring system, it’s a good idea to keep a gauge in your glove compartment. Check your vehicle’s owner manual or tire information placard for the correct pressures.

3. Keep your eyes on the road – distraction can be deadly

You may think you’re a great multi-tasker, but did you know that humans are only consciously able to attend to one task at a time? It’s not possible to pay full attention to driving while completing another task – like texting, changing the radio or eating.

Even if it only takes you two seconds to look at your device, you’ve already doubled your risk of a collision. At 100 km/h, you’ll travel 52 meters in two seconds – nearly the length of a hockey rink – over which the road conditions can drastically change.

Along with substantial fines and demerit points, distracted driving penalties can include licence suspension and even vehicle seizure. From both a safety and financial perspective, distracted driving is a bad idea, so stay focused on the road.