Safety is every one’s concern, especially while traveling to and fro. With all the nut cases on the road today one needs to arm himself with every possible tool to ensure a safe arrival to the desired destination. Having been involved in the transportation industry all my life, and driven close to 4 million accident free miles, I would like to pass on some of the training I received that enabled me to accomplish this feat.
Early in my career I was introduced to the Smith System of accident free driving, the center focus of which teaches the Five Seeing Habits of Safe Driving. The following article offers a brief description of each. If rigorously followed, one can be reasonable certain to never have an accident.
FIVE SEEING HABITS OF SAFE DRIVING
1. Aim High in Steering
2. Get The Big Picture
3. Keep Your Eyes Moving
4. Leave Yourself An Out
5. Make Sure They See You
1. Aim High In Steering
This doesn’t mean to keep your hands at the top of the steering wheel! In short it explains that one should not look directly in front of your vehicle, instead look as far down the road as possible to uncover important traffic information to make appropriate decisions.
Look as far down the road as possible, looking ahead to where your vehicle will be in 12-15 seconds.
Know your field of vision:
Peripheral vision (fringe vision) 98% or 177 degrees of our vision
Central Vision (core vision) 2% or 3 degrees of our vision
2. Get The Big Picture
This doesn’t mean we should buy a large screen TV, it means to Maintain the proper following distance,(at least one car length for every 10 MPH), so you can comfortably determine the true hazards around your vehicle. Don’t tailgate others.
Be aware of all objects and obstacles(dogs, cats,deer, ladders in the road, etc.) scan other vehicles to be aware of things that might fall off into your path. The road isn’t going anywhere, once you know the direction the road goes and any potential hazards such as potholes, observe things that might move into your line of travel. After you determine that something is not moving into your line of travel, ignore it.
In town or a city, Scan 1-2 city blocks ahead of your vehicle
Out in the country, Scan ½ mile ahead of your vehicle on highways, expressways & country roads
Scan sidewalk to sidewalk in town
Fence row to fence row in the country
Be aware of all areas and all things around your vehicle
Back only when necessary
When backing, double check to make sure no one or nothing is behind your vehicle, get out of the car and physically check if necessary. When walking to you car be sure to check behind it. Back only after engaging your 4 way flashers and sounding your horn to alert anyone who might wander into your line of travel.
3. Keep your eyes moving
– Scan, Don’t stare. Constantly shift your eyes while driving, Active eyes keep up with changing traffic conditions.
– Check all mirrors every 5-8 seconds
– To avoid highway hypnosis, Scan the area in front of you every 2 seconds
– Never stare at an object for more than 2 seconds, not even Brad Pitt or Angeline Jolene!
– Eliminate eye holding patterns
– Adjust speed to existing conditions, speed up or slow down when necessary
Driving comes first, eating, changing radio, A/C, talking on cell phone, etc, all come secondary, and should only be done, if at all, when there is no traffic around you.
If you get tired, turn up radio, turn up A/C, sing to yourself, or better yet pull over and take a break.
4. Leave yourself an out:
Be prepared. Surround your vehicle with space in front of and at least on one side to escape conflict.
Always have an escape route in mind in case the unexpected arises. Always drive as if you have no brakes, have an escape route if needed.
Leave a 1 car-length space cushion between you and the car in front of you at stop signs and intersections (check mirrors to make sure the person behind you is stopping, if not use up your space cushion, or change lanes if possible.)
If the person in front of you stops suddenly, stop as soon as possible, but if you have time, check your mirror to make sure the person behind you can stop before hitting you, if not use up your space cushion to give him as much room as possible. Whenever you hit someone from the rear, it is automatically your fault, a driver needs to have control of his, or her vehicle at all times.
Use turn signals
Stay at least 2 seconds behind the car in front of you(1 car length for every 10 MPH.)
3 seconds in adverse weather
Slow down in heavy rain, your vehicle will hydroplane if you go to fast. Every vehicle is different, vehicles with wider tires and/or little or no tread, will hydroplane quicker than vehicles with narrower tires.
Check other drivers and vehicles for movement, watch drivers heads for movement,also check the wheels,remember, the wheels of a vehicle are going to be the first thing to start moving.
5. Make sure they see you:
Communicate in traffic with your horn, lights, and signals to establish eye contact with motorists and pedestrians. Be reasonably sure of other people’s intentions.
– Make eye contact
– Honk horn (twice)
– Turn on/off headlights
– Tap brakes several times in succession
– Use turn signals.
As you can see, driving is a full time job. It can also be safe, many, many, professional drivers drive for 20 or 30 years and never have an accident, if they can do it, you can to!
Safety is NO accident!!