The ability to drive yourself wherever you want is incredibly freeing, so it can be hard to admit that there are some instances when you just shouldn’t get behind the wheel. We’re going to break down four times you shouldn’t drive for physical, mental, or legal reasons – and suggest a few alternatives to help you reach your destination.
Why you shouldn’t drive: Transport Canada reports that 60 percent of Canadians have driven while fatigued, and 15 percent have actually fallen asleep behind the wheel. If that doesn’t sound dangerous to you, consider that an estimated 20 percent of deadly accidents involved some sort of driver fatigue.
What to do instead: If you’re on a long car trip, schedule frequent stops to get up and stretch, and swap driving duties with your passengers if possible. If you’re tired on your morning commute, either move your bedtime earlier to get more sleep, or consider taking public transportation – you could even catch a little more rest on your way to work!
You’ve been drinking
Why you shouldn’t drive: It might seem obvious that drinking and driving is a big no-no, but a recent study ranked Canada first among 19 countries for percentage of traffic deaths linked to alcohol, and MADD Canada reports that alcohol and drugs are present in almost 60 percent of fatal road accidents.
What to do instead: If you’re planning on drinking, arrange your transportation before you’ve had your first sip of alcohol – whether that’s finding a designated driver, researching public transportation options or downloading a ride-sharing app to your phone.
You’re experiencing a medical emergency
Why you shouldn’t drive: If you’re sick enough that you need to visit the emergency room, don’t drive yourself to the hospital. There are a number of reasons why it’s not a good idea to drive in a medical emergency: you could pass out behind the wheel; your symptoms could progress on the ride over, making it difficult to safely operate your vehicle; or you could worsen your symptoms or injuries as a result of the physical requirements of driving.
What to do instead: You could call on family, friends or a neighbour to take you to the hospital, but you still run the risk of getting stuck in traffic on your way. Instead, your best option is to call 911 and request an ambulance. Not only will they get you to the ER faster than you would on your own, but you’ll also receive potentially life-saving treatment on the ride over.
Why you shouldn’t drive: It might not seem as physically dangerous as driving while drunk, tired, or sick, but driving without insurance can result in some pretty serious legal and financial consequences. In Ontario, for example, driving without insurance could earn you a fine of up to $50,000, a license suspension, and vehicle impoundment. In addition, if you’re found at fault in an accident where you were driving without insurance, you could be held personally liable for another driver’s medical costs. On the other hand, if you were injured in the accident, you might not be allowed to sue the other driver for compensation.
What to do instead: Before you get behind the wheel, make sure you have the proper car insurance coverage. To make it as easy as possible, you can compare quotes online to find the best plan available. If you’re already considered a high-risk driver and cannot find traditional insurance coverage, contact the Facility Association, as they are responsible for ensuring that insurance is available to all licensed drivers.
In addition to opting out of driving during these four scenarios, remember that the rules also apply to drivers whose cars you’re riding in as a passenger. It might be awkward to point out that someone is too tired or too drunk to drive, but this difficult conversation could save your life, and the lives of others on the road.