Road Safety

Road Safety Tips

Traffic Officer directing traffic.

We encourage the citizens of Peterborough, Lakefield and the Township of Cavan Monaghan, to stay alert and share the road, whether you are a pedestrian, cyclist or motor vehicle driver. We all have a role to play in making our roads safer for everyone.

Driving Safety

BE AN ALERT DRIVER: Driving is a job that requires your full attention every time you get behind the wheel. Any secondary activity will detract from your ability to drive properly and safely. You must reduce distractions and focus on your driving.

There are a number of possible driver distractions including:

  • Using devices such as GPS systems, stereos, CD and DVD players, radios, cell phones, laptops, PDAs and MP3 players
  • Reading maps, directions or other material
  • Grooming (combing hair, putting on make-up or shaving)
  • Eating or drinking
  • Tending to children or pets
  • Adjusting the controls in your vehicle (radio, CD player or climate control)
  • Visual distractions outside your vehicle, such as collisions or police activity

Careless driving is a serious offence. Police can charge drivers with careless driving if drivers do not pay full attention to their driving. If you are convicted of careless driving, you will get six demerit points and can be fined up to $2,000 and sentenced to up to six months in jail. In some cases, your licence may be suspended for up to two years. Your insurance rates may go up.

TALK LATER: Cellular phones can be an important safety aid for drivers, but using a cellular phone while driving takes a driver’s attention away from the task of driving and increases the risk of collision. Distracted drivers are more likely to make mistakes or react too slowly. That’s why drivers who talk, text, type, dial or e-mail using hand-held cellular phones and other hand-held communications and entertainment devices face fines of up to $500 under Ontario’s distracted driving law. Viewing display screens unrelated to driving, such as laptop computers and portable DVD players, is also prohibited while driving.
You could also be charged with careless or dangerous driving if you use a device while driving. If you are convicted of careless driving, you will get six demerit points and can be fined up to $2,000, and sentenced to up to six months in jail. In some cases, your licence may be suspended for up to two years. Your insurance rates may go up.
Make it a habit to pull over and park to use your cell phone or have a passenger take the call or let it go to voice mail. If you must use a cellular phone when driving, you must use it hands-free.

DON’T TAILGATE. A safe following distance is at least two seconds behind the vehicle in front of you. To give yourself a two-second space, follow these steps:

1. Pick a marker on the road ahead, such as a road sign or telephone pole.
2. When the rear of the vehicle ahead passes the marker, count “one thousand and one, one thousand and two”.
3. When the front of your vehicle reaches the marker, stop counting. If you reach the marker before you count “one thousand and two,” you are following too closely.

Remember that the two-second rule gives a minimum following distance. It applies only to ideal driving conditions. You will need extra space in certain situations, such as bad weather, when following motorcycles or large trucks, or when carrying a heavy load.

  • Be a patient driver, especially with young children or elderly pedestrians who need more time to cross the road
  • Always watch for pedestrians, especially when entering an intersection, at night and while turning
  • Slow down in school zones and watch for children who may not be watching for themselves
  • Wearing a seatbelt properly is the single most effective thing anyone can do to protect themselves and others in a motor vehicle collision.
  • Drivers are responsible for ensuring all passengers in their vehicle who are under the age of 16 are wearing a seatbelt or are in an approved child-safety seat.
  • Keep to the right of the road or in the right-hand lane on multi-lane roads unless you want to turn left or pass another vehicle. This is especially important if you are driving more slowly than other vehicles.
  • Make sure vehicle maintenance is up to date with proper tire tread and pressure, and all lights and wind shield wipers working.
  • Clear all snow/ice off of your vehicle before driving and use caution in winter when snow banks are high – they can easily obstruct your view of a small vehicle or pedestrian.
  • When police officers are directing traffic, you must follow their directions, even if the directions are different from traffic lights or signs.
  • When a police officer signals you to pull your vehicle over, you must pull over as far to the right as you safely can and come to a complete stop. Stay in your vehicle and wait for the police officer. You must immediately, upon the police officer’s request, surrender your driver’s licence, vehicle permit (or copy) and insurance. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have 24 hours to present these documents. If you do not obey a police officer’s direction to pull over, you risk being fined (up to $25,000), having your licence suspended or even serving time in prison.
  • When an emergency vehicle is approaching your vehicle from any direction with its flashing lights, or siren sounding, you are required to bring your vehicle to an immediate stop.
  • When bringing your vehicle to a stop, bring your vehicle to the right-hand edge of the roadway. When on road having one way or multi-lane traffic move to the closest edge of the roadway. Your vehicle should be clear of any intersections. Do not move onto or stop on the shoulder of the roadway, as emergency vehicles may be travelling along it.
  • If you are in an intersection and preparing to make a turn when an emergency vehicle is approaching, you should abandon the turn and clear the intersection by proceeding straight when safe to do so, then pull to the right and stop. This will clear the intersection and minimize the possibility of a collision with the emergency vehicle should it be passing you on the side you intended to turn towards.
  • When the emergency vehicle has passed, check to make sure the way is clear and signal before merging back into traffic. Remain vigilant for additional emergency vehicles

If you are in a situation in which you feel threatened by another driver, do the following:

1. Stay in your vehicle and lock the doors.
2. If you have a cell phone, call police.
3. Use your horn and signals to attract attention.
4. If you believe you are being followed, do not drive home. Drive to a police station or a busy public place.
If you are a victim of a road rage incident or witness any aggressive or possible impaired drivers – Obtain the licence plate and call police at 705-876-1122 ext 225.

The ultimate goal of the Traffic Unit is to achieve voluntary compliance by all persons using the highways, so as to reduce collision rates. Enforcement is not based on quotas, but is of a direct nature based on identified needs and resulting from information including:

1. High collision locations;
2. Public complaints and requests; and
3. An officer’s own identification of needs

For more information on traffic safety or if you have any questions or concerns please contact the Traffic Unit at 705-876-1122 ext. 289. Remember, driving is a privilege, not a right.

Peterborough Police-113

Bicycle Safety

A bicycle is a vehicle under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. This means that, as a bicyclist, you have the same rights and responsibilities to obey all traffic laws as other road users. Cyclists charged for disobeying traffic laws will be subject to the same fines as motor vehicle drivers in most cases. Examples include all traffic signals and signs, signalling, one way streets, and stopping for school buses.

Identification: Cyclists must stop and identify themselves when required to stop by police for breaking traffic laws. The officer will ask you for your correct name, date of birth and address. You don’t need identification, but the officer must be satisfied you are being truthful. Lying or failing to identify yourself could result in your arrest and a fine.

HELMETS: Cyclists under 18 must, by law, wear a helmet in Ontario. However, we recommend everyone wear a helmet while cycling. Make sure your helmet fits properly:

1. Size: Try the helmet on. While it is sitting flat on top of your head, make sure the helmet doesn’t rock side to side. Sizing pads come with new helmets; use the pads to securely fit to your head. If the helmet has a universal fit ring instead of sizing pads, adjust the ring size to fit the head.
2. Position: The helmet should sit level on your head and low on your forehead—one or two finger-widths above your eyebrow.
3. Buckles: Center the left buckle under the chin. On most helmets, the straps can be pulled from the back of the helmet to lengthen or shorten the chin straps. This task is easier if you take the helmet off to make these adjustments.
4. Side Straps: Adjust the slider on both straps to form a “V” shape under, and slightly in front of, the ears. Lock the slider if possible.
5. Chin Strap: Buckle your chin strap. Tighten the strap until it is snug, so that no more than one or two fingers fit under the strap.
6. Final Fitting:

  • Does your helmet fit right? Open your mouth wide…big yawn! The helmet should pull down on the head. If not, refer back to step 5 and tighten the chin strap.
  • Does your helmet rock back more than two fingers above the eyebrows? If so, unbuckle, shorten the front strap by moving the slider forward. Buckle, retighten the chin strap, and test again.
  • Does your helmet rock forward into your eyes? If so, unbuckle, tighten the back strap by moving the slider back toward the ear. Buckle, retighten the chin strap, and test again.
  • Roll the rubber band down to the buckle. All four straps must go through the rubber band and be close to the buckle to prevent the buckle from slipping.

Replace your bicycle helmet if it has received any strong impact-even if damage isn’t visible on the outside-or if it is 5 years old.

  • Cyclists are required by law to have a bell or horn and a white front light, red rear light (or reflector), white reflective tape on the front forks and red reflective tape on the rear forks, if riding between 1/2 hour before sunset and 1/2 hour after sunrise . Use of lights is also recommended in bad weather. It is wise to wear reflective clothing.
  • It is unsafe and illegal to ride on the sidewalk.
  • It is unsafe and illegal to have a passenger on your bike.
  • Lock your bike! Bicycle theft is a common occurrence.
  • Get a bike licence. They are free and you can register online. Go to the Request section of the website to register your bike.

BE SEEN AND HEARD: as one of the smallest vehicles on the road, it is important to alert other drivers to your presence. Use your bell to announce your presence. Wear reflective or light-coloured clothing. Use your lights. Following the rules of the road will increase the chance that drivers will see you.

Pedestrian Safety

  • Cross at marked crosswalks or traffic lights. Do not cross between parked cars
  • Make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you before you cross
  • Cross only when traffic has come to a complete stop at an intersection
  • Never cross on a red light.
  • Watch for traffic turning at intersections or entering and leaving driveways
  • Wear bright or light-coloured clothing or reflective strips when walking in dusk or darkness
  • Be alert to your surroundings. Wearing headphones or talking on a cell phone reduces pedestrian awareness
  • Pedestrians must understand that in some types of environmental conditions they can be hard for motorists to see.
  • Walk on the inside of the sidewalk, or if there are no sidewalks, walk as far away from the travelled portion of the road as possible
  • Where there are no curbs, stop before the sidewalk meets the road and be alert for vehicles

Child Safety Seats

  • Ensure your children are safe and properly secured while travelling in a motor vehicle. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation advises that the correct use of a child restraint on every trip can prevent 75 per cent of crash-related deaths and serious injuries to passengers who are children.
  • Children 12 and under should be properly restrained in the back seat, especially if there is a front passenger seat air bag. If in front seat, turn airbag OFF.
  • Infant < 20lbs – rear facing away from air bag
  • Toddler 20-40lbs – forward facing in seat with anchor bolt fastened to vehicle
  • Child 40-80lbs, <8 years or < 145cm – Booster with lap and shoulder belt with head support
  • Always follow the instructions according to the child seat manufacturer’s manual and the vehicle owner’s manual
  • Make sure the restraint system has CMVSS (Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard) on the label and comes with up-to-date and complete manufacturer’s instructions
  • Check the weight and height limits of the seat to be sure that it is correct for your child
  • Before you buy a seat, try it in your vehicle to be sure that it can be installed properly and can be tightened so that there is little movement