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Fleet Safety Council is Freedom! By Nick Nicholson

A couple of years back, a chap in the business of selling transportation safety, knowing I was part of FSC, sent me a questionnaire. He was looking for advice on how to improve his service. My response to him was as follows:

Further to your questionnaire the other day, here are some of my thoughts:

1. I am afraid you are seeking something that, unless you can overcome your own organization’s rules, you can’t use.
2. Your organization is not free to provide the kind of safety that the FS Council can.
3. You profess that safety is your prime goal but, yours is a business designed to make money. You have strings attached that you’re going to have difficulty overcoming:

Take your own audio-visual catalogue for example. At least 25 years Nick-2015ago, Council was introduced to a video put out by Michelin Tire telling us how to overcome a tire “blowout”. It was a wild change of technique to anything we’d ever heard of before. Michelin put it out there for free to the general public. “The Critical Factor” video is now close to 40 years old. I know, from my own experience, that it has saved lives. Council (in those days) obtained a copy for our own library – it is still free. Our FSC members still teach from it. Various formats of the film for various vehicles are still free on the internet today through Michelin. It is a real driving lifesaver! Does your library have a copy listed? No! There is not even a reference to it and you don’t teach it.

Read the MTO’s driver’s handbook to see what they recommend for a “blowout”. There’s nothing there! They don’t even address it. I couldn’t help think of this video every time I heard of the US blaming Ford Explorers and Firestone for deaths from blown out tires over the years. The safety solution to save lives is already there but, because it was developed by a commercial enterprise, nobody proclaiming “best practices” with ANY commercial or government-supported body will touch it. That, to me, is paying “lip service” to safety not, providing a solution. That’s a great part of the reason I stick with Council. As a commercial operation, you do not have the freedom to provide what the Fleet Safety Council does.

Current televised advice from the Ontario Provincial Police is scolding commercial drivers for inattentive driving resulting in huge fatal crashes. Inattentiveness was addressed 65 years ago by the “Smith System”. Unless you were taught his system, nobody, today is aware of it. The solution is there but not shared without cost.

When dealing with any of Ontario’s Ministries, I have often found the same problem. They’ll tell you that you have to come up with a better policy, program, solution or directive for your organization but, they will not provide a hint as to how to go about it. These people see examples of their idea of acceptable parameters of subjects every day, but will not provide, even, a clue as to what anyone else is doing (best practices/examples) citing privacy. If they are telling you to make a change then, they must have some kind of preconceived, acceptable solution in their mind already. It doesn’t have to be a copy.

• I’m don’t care who’s policy it is. What I’m looking for are the principles, parameters, and verbiage used to convey a positive acceptable message to protect people. I shouldn’t have to re-invent the “wheel”.
• I’m looking for an acceptable and realistic solution and timeline from the introduction to completion. It needs to have a simple, easy route to finding it.
• I am looking for the pitfalls to overcome; the errors to avoid and the acceptable language with which to present it. It shouldn’t be like an “appeals” court where you go back again, and again until you get it right (in somebody’s opinion).
• All proponents talk about “best practices” but, refuse to share them. (This is where FS Council has always shone ahead for me – the ideas are freely shared and Members actually are eager to help without expecting a fee in return.) The prime focus with Fleet Safety Council is actually safety – not money!
• So often, it’s immediate. Right there, right at the meeting, somebody will ask how to write a policy regarding marijuana (a hot issue at the moment) or another such topic. The answers are immediate, without fear, on how to solve your query. Council members will steer you in the right direction. Even though members all work for competing companies, overall safety is what is important to us for everybody’s benefit.
• In my opinion, the $50 membership in Fleet Safety Council is the best investment you can make if you’re in the transportation business. I’m in my thirtieth year of membership and its benefits have been unbeatable.

At Fleet Safety Council we are all equal members in it to share safe practices with each other, therefore, truly making the world around us safer. The driver coming towards you may have been taught some safety technique you’ve shared. Now, it’s your life on the line!

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council

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