The Victoria Day long weekend is one of the busiest weekends of the year on Ontario's highways.
With the warmer weather, many families are heading out to get their cottages open. Others are finishing college and university and heading home.
What this means is that there will be many more people using the roads, highways and waterways during the next several days.
The OPP will be out in force to ensure that safety is on the top of the list for everyone's travel plans.
It is also important for all Ontario residents to do their part to ensure that their travel plans go smoothly:
- Always be aware of traffic around you as you drive. Develop a routine for looking ahead, behind and from side to side. Check your mirrors every five seconds or so, and check your blind spots by turning your head to look over your shoulder.
- Wear your seat belt and be sure that all passengers in your vehicle are wearing theirs. Studies show that seatbelts will save your life and prevent a more serious injury in a crash
- Avoid using hand held electronic devices when you are behind the wheel, keep your eyes on the road and your mind on driving. A distracted driver is four times more likely to be involved in a collision.
- Exercise patience and show courtesy to other people using the highway. Aggressive driving is dangerous and places all motorists at risk.
- Be a sober driver. If you plan on consuming alcohol, make arrangements for a designated driver, get a ride, take a cab, or stay over. Impaired driving is a criminal offence, and the consequences of driving under the influence of drugs / alcohol can be tragic and not worth the risk at all.
While on Ontario's waterways, boaters are also reminded to keep safety in mind on the Victoria Day Long Weekend.
- Get your Pleasure Craft Operator's card. This is required for those operating a pleasure craft on Ontario's waterways.
- Know the load capacity of your vessel. It is important to note that the load also includes the passengers on board not just the cargo. Ensure that the load in your vessel is evenly distributed to avoid taking on water or capsizing.
- Ensure your pleasure craft is properly equipped and in good working order. Required items include a floating rope/tow line, a flashlight, a paddle, bailing bucket, signalling device and lifejackets. A small tool kit, first aid kit / blanket, snacks and water are also a good idea in case of a problem.
- Ensure that there are lifejackets or personal floatation devices (PFD) for everyone and wear them. Weak swimmers and small children should wear a lifejacket or PFD whenever they are near the water. A lifejacket or PFD will save your life if you wear it.
- Operate your vessel according to the conditions. Rough and windy conditions may mean taking two trips from the landing and may also make the trip take longer be a wise operator.
- Be a sober boater. Never venture out onto the water while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. While travelling to your destination, ensure that liquor is stored properly and is not readily available. Open liquor is only permitted on a vessel that is moored and has a washroom, cooking and sleeping facilities. A pontoon boat does not meet this requirement. Impaired operation of a vessel is a criminal offence and very dangerous again not worth the risk.
ATV and Off Road Vehicle operators should also do their part this weekend.
- Know your local bylaws pertaining to use of an ATV on municipal streets and roads.
- Make sure your ATV is in good working order and be prepared for breakdowns.
- Wear a helmet and appropriate clothing for your excursion. Boots gloves and goggles / glasses should also be a part of your wardrobe for the day.
- Ride within your abilities. Taking unnecessary chances or driving beyond your skill level dramatically increases your chances of crashing.
- Plan your route and ensure that you tell someone where you will be riding and when you should be back. Bring a cell phone if possible.
- Ride where you are permitted and stay off private property.
- Ride alcohol / drug free.