May 18, 2017 1:13 pm
Updated: May 18, 2017 7:13 pm

Alberta RCMP urge road safety ahead of May long weekend

WATCH ABOVE: A lot of people will be hitting the highway, hoping to get a head start on the long weekend and avoid traffic tie ups. As Jenna Freeman reports, RCMP are out watching for infractions and ramping up enforcement.

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The Victoria Day long weekend marks the unofficial start to the summer road-tripping season. With all the extra vehicles on the road, Alberta RCMP want to urge drivers to be patient and obey the rules of the road.

During the May long weekend last year, there were five fatal collisions and 42 injury collisions in Alberta RCMP jurisdictions. Over the three days, 3,105 speeding tickets were issued, 73 seat belt violations were handed out and 22 tickets were issued for distracted driving.

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READ MORE: Deadly May long weekend on Alberta roads

RCMP urge people to abide by the speed limits, put their cellphones away and stay focused on the road.

“Typically, during the Victoria Day weekend, we see an increase in traffic volume on the highways, as well as a greater mix of cars, RVs and motorcycles,” said Steve Daley with Alberta RCMP Traffic Services.

“This long weekend we are asking everyone to be prepared for heavier traffic. You can ensure everyone gets to their destinations safely and enjoy the long weekend by buckling up, taking your time, putting the phone down and staying alert to others on the road.”

READ MORE: 2016 the second coldest May long weekend in Calgary in at least 40 years

With increased visits to National Parks because of the free park passes this year, Alberta RCMP anticipate there will be even more traffic on the roads in the Banff, Jasper and Waterton Lakes areas.

“Under normal circumstances, the national parks in Alberta attract a lot of visitors, but this summer, that number is likely to increase significantly,” said Supt. Rick Gardner with Alberta Traffic Sheriffs. “Our goal is to ensure that all roads users within the parks drive safely, giving everyone a chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery the parks have to offer.”

READ MORE: Camping in Alberta over May long weekend? Here’s what you need to know

The Alberta Motor Association also has tips for drivers to help make long weekend road-tripping go smoothly.

Cheat in traffic

With nice weather comes road construction in Alberta. When approaching construction that forces a lane closure, the AMA suggests drivers fight the urge to immediately merge and instead use the zipper merge method.

READ MORE: ‘It’s OK to cheat’ when merging into traffic, AMA says

Drivers are asked to use both lanes until the point of closure, then alternate into the open lane one vehicle at a time. The AMA said zipper merging can reduce congestion by as much as 40 per cent.

Slow down to speed up

When in heavier traffic, less aggressive driving can get you to your destination faster, according to the AMA. Drivers should maintain a steady speed, avoid unnecessary lane changes and increase their following distance.

The AMA said this method will improve fuel efficiency and prevent tickets.

Be prepared

Whether your drive is one hour or eight, everyone should have an emergency kit in their vehicle. Before hitting the road, drivers should have a full tank of gas, a recently tested battery, topped-up fluids, clean filters and proper tire pressure.

The AMA offers a hands-free road reporter app that can also help drivers plan their route and be aware of construction.

Alberta 511 also posts up-to-date road conditions.

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