Driver condition refers to your physical, mental and emotional fitness to drive. It is the most important of the six conditions, because a driver in top physical, mental and emotional shape can adjust to all the other conditions and to the errors of other drivers as well.
What makes a driver unfit?
The greatest number of traffic collisions are caused by drivers not paying attention. Any driver is a potential fatal hazard. Careful observation and visual scanning of the entire traffic scene ahead, behind and to either side must be part of your driving. Your eyes look at count less things you do not really see at all. Your mind concentrates on only a few details and excludes others. You see only the things your mind selects.
Normally, your eyes shift automatically about every two seconds as you drive - provided your attention is on the road. When you are preoccupied, however, this automatic eye shift does not occur. Only by conscious practice to force your eyes to move every two seconds, until it becomes a habit, can you avoid the serious danger of a blank stare in traffic when your mind is not on your driving. Most collisions occur near home and on familiar roads or highways that the driver fails to concen trate on seeing. A moment’s lack of attention behind the wheel - whether from poor scanning habits or common dis tractions such as cellphones, worry, daydreaming, impatience, tuning the radio, talking to a passenger or casually gazing at billboards and storefronts - can bring about a collision and possibly death.
Drinking, drugs and driving:
In Canada, it is a Criminal Code offence to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
2016 facts about drinking and driving in Saskatchewan1:
- A drinking driver is involved in four out of every 10 fatal collisions.
- There is a drinking driver in one out of 7 collisions where someone is injured.
- Of the 54 people killed, 35 were drivers, 10 were passengers and 9 were pedestrians.
- Of the 54 people killed, 28 were killed on provincial highways, 14 on rural roads, six on urban streets and six on First Nations roads.
- Those aged 25-34 are involved in the most alcohol-related collisions.
Alcohol and drugs affect everyone differently. Contributing factors for impairment include age, gender, physical condition, amount of food consumed, medication and other factors.
The brain functions first affected by alcohol or drug consumption are not only important to our ability to drive safely, but are the same ones required to make rational decisions about not driving after drinking. For this reason, you must make the decision to separate drinking and drug use from driving. Make the necessary alternate transportation plans before your activities begin.
Prescription, over-the-counter, and illegal drugs affect your brain function. Some will directly affect your driving. Brain and body activity may be slowed, directly impacting a driver’s reaction time; vision may be blurred, or doubled, or there may be inaccurate depth perception. Some drugs cause hallucinations, paranoia, disorientation, anxiety or over-confidence which may result with aggressive behaviours.
Many people think that driver impairment is caused exclusively by ingestion of alcohol. However, if that person already has another drug in their system, the impairing effect on the functioning of the central nervous system (brain) is far greater than the impairing effect of the alcohol and the impairing effect of the other drugs combined; it is not a simple adding together of impairment, but rather a multiplier effect!
Do not drive while under the influence of any amount of alcohol or drugs.
Impaired driving legislation is applicable to impairment by alcohol, as well as impairment by any other drug.
For additional information on drinking, drugs and driving, please visit the Saskatchewan Driver's Handbook.
Holding, viewing or manipulating a hand-held cellphone or mobile device is prohibited in Saskatchewan. Experienced drivers, who are no longer in the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program, can use hands-free cellphones if they’re activated with voice commands or one-touch, and are dashboard, visor or cradle mounted.
Driving requires constant alertness. It’s tiring. Even if you’re just out driving for fun, fatigue can creep up on you before you know it. You become irritable. You make bad driving decisions. You take longer to react to changing conditions. When this happens, it’s time to take a break.
Extreme fatigue may lead to a dream state or to dozing behind the wheel. Your vehicle is not equipped with an automatic pilot control. So don’t drive when you’re dead-tired. You could end up dead.
In Canada, a driver can drive a commercial vehicle under the National Safety Code up to 13 hours a day, but it is recommended the driver not drive more than two hours without stopping for a rest. Beware of highway hypnosis - that condition of fatigue and boredom that causes your senses to become dull, your eyes to become fixed and makes you unable to react to traffic around you.
You drive not only with your head, hands and feet, but with your personality as well. Don’t drive when you’re so angry or upset that you can't concentrate on driving.
Being sick can put added stress on you when you are driving. Even a mild cold can cause enough discomfort on a long trip to make you tired and distracted.
- Based on preliminary 2016 Traffic Accident Information System (TAIS) collision statistics. ↩