What’s the proper way to merge into traffic? Who has the right-of-way at an uncontrolled intersection? What is a safe distance between your vehicle and the one ahead? What does an amber light really mean? Is it time to dust off that old driver handbook and brush up on the rules?
Alberta drivers are invited to put their knowledge to the test and complete an online survey at www.schulich.ucalgary.ca/survey. The survey is available until March 31, 2010.
Traffic collisions are a leading cause of serious injuries and death, with some experts often blaming driver errors. With the arrival of the Family Day long weekend—as with every holiday weekend—the risk of road crashes increases with more vehicles on the roads and drivers hurrying to get places.
A road safety expert at the University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering designed a survey to help gauge how much drivers actually know about what they should and should not be doing behind the wheel. Little scientific research has been done in Alberta when it comes to the average driver’s knowledge of the rules of the road.
“Many drivers took their knowledge tests a long time ago and the objective of this survey is to find out how much a typical driver knows and remembers about the rules of the road,” explains Richard Tay, Alberta Motor Association (AMA) Research Chair in Road Safety. “Even people who took their knowledge tests recently may not remember much because some of them simply crammed the knowledge into their short-term memory for the exams.”
Knowledge tests are mandatory to get a Class 7 learner’s permit. In most cases, this is the only time drivers are ever tested on the rules of the road. Tay hopes to find out if age, gender or driving experience affect how much people remember about the rules and whether their level of knowledge affects their behaviour behind the wheel and, therefore, road safety.
Tay will make recommendations to the Alberta Motor Association and Alberta Transportation on how Alberta’s testing process should be changed, if at all. While experts at AMA do not support widespread re-testing of drivers, they say it’s useful to understand how much drivers actually know. Research has been done in other jurisdictions, but this survey will gather data specific to Alberta.
“This will help us determine whether there is a need for drivers to re-fresh their knowledge about the road rules and what a mechanism to do that might look like,” says Scott Wilson, senior policy analyst with AMA. “In addition to public awareness and education, we may need to consider innovative strategies to ensure drivers are aware of and understand changes to the rules while being familiar with the existing rules they’re expected to follow every day.”