How good a driver are you?
So, (from my last post) you’ve considered some of the preparations we should take before moving our vehicle but, are you finally ready to start actually driving?
So: “Drivers ……. start your engines.” Oops! There are still lots of things to do. Make sure your glass is clean. Get your seat comfortable. Make sure your feet are comfortable on the pedals, your arms are comfortable on the steering wheel, and your seatbelt is connected, snug to your pelvis, the shoulder belt over, and positioned down to the top of your shoulder. Are your sunglasses on board?
Figure out where your head position is when you are driving normally. Adjust all mirrors to have a full view from that position. If you are in a car with a center mounted rear-view mirror, make sure you have a center based picture out the rear window.
Exterior or door flat mirrors need to be adjusted so that, from your normal head position, you can just see the edge of the outside skin of the vehicle on the vehicle side and as far away from it on the “road” side. When checking how high your view needs to be, set the “horizon” about the middle of the view. Personally, I want my vehicle to have convex mirrors on both sides. They may be tiny ones glued to the flat mirror on a car or external items attached by an arm. I have measured it at a stoplight and have found that as many as seven cars can hide in your driver’s side blind spot when you don’t have a convex mirror. I have trained myself to always look into the convex mirrors first to get the whole picture then, move my focus to the flat mirror. You need to be able to get all the information you require at a glance. I digress back to talking preparation again.
Be sure you know your vehicle! Light switches, gear shifter, windshield wipers and washers, turn signals, 4-ways, door locks, and defroster are the major ones where you can find yourself fumbling (especially, in the dark). Look at your vehicle closely. Make a mental note of how far out the front hood is and whether the nose of your vehicle actually stops there (drops straight down) or stretches out further. That’ll give you an idea of your clearance in tight places. The same for the back. Locate the rear of your vehicle in the mirrors.
Via the interior, note the angle of the back window as to what you can not see. Some cars are manufactured with terrible rear views from the inside. (Remember Steve McQueen’s famous Mustang from the movie Bullet?) Going backwards was a real challenge. Think in terms of the height of children, parked bicycles and kids toys left directly in front of or behind you in a driveway. Good time to remind you to always back-in and drive out of driveways. Think of what you don’t see.
Now, before you put it in gear, physically, get rid of your cell phone. Put it out of reach. If you are connected by “Bluetooth”, make sure it is turned on and you’ve heard the report that it is connected. Again, know your controls. Never, ever, touch that cell phone again when your vehicle is running. Get totally off the road with your engine off before grabbing for it.
If you’ve spent a long time doing these things sitting inside your car, you might want to step out and circle your car once more before putting it in gear. A lot of things could have happened while you are sitting there paying attention to these issues. This is something I have noticed in mall (or any) parking lots. People return to their vehicle, start it and then sit there doing their banking, listening to messages, putting on makeup, or whatever and then, putting it in gear, drive off. Chances are, that they have no idea what has changed around them since they got in. The other thing they do is drive right over top of forgotten parking lot curb stones set out in-front-of them.
We still haven’t moved the vehicle. Are you beginning to see why it takes some thinking about your driving when you’re driving? There is a lot to it that we often totally ignore until some single, momentary, incident happens to make us horribly aware, for the rest of our lives!. Again, have you been lucky, so far?
Keep your people safe.
The beauty of life is in your hands.
THINK SAFETY ……… EVERYWHERE ……….. ALL THE TIME
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