I hope by now, you’ve satisfied yourself that you, your vehicle, and conditions make it reasonable to head out onto the road. YOU, by the way, are the one person you must satisfy before driving. The millions of people out there won’t be concerned about you until you’re the one about to cause THEM a problem. If that happens, watch how quickly they are to judge you.
Not everybody thinks the same way. I won a prize once in a classroom full of safety professionals (all of them teachers of safety subjects). The speaker had asked who was most important when it came to safety in our lives. The answers amazed me: “my wife’, “my husband”, “my children”, “my parents”, “my sister”, “my employees”, and so on. Of roughly sixty professional safety people in the room, I was the only one who gave the shortest answer. “Me!”. The speaker came bounding down the aisle to congratulate me and give me my prize. All those other people may be the most important TO YOU but, when YOU’RE gone, nothing else matters!
Your engine is probably getting pretty warm by now so, if you’re ready, let’s put it into gear. Check around you to ensure all is clear. Very slightly, put your foot on the accelerator and slowly release the clutch (if you have one). The vehicle begins to move and before you’ve gone a hundred feet (30.48 m), step on the brake and bring it to a full stop. What the h…….. ? For the very first time you now know if the vehicle has braking, how much effort you have to use to get it to stop and if everything feels right with your brake pedal. By now, you may also have a clue as to how your steering is working. (Especially useful when you get new brakes installed.)
I’m going to assume that you already have a driver’s license, that your brain is filled with the up-to-date information regarding all highway signs and you know the current legislation in the jurisdictions you will travel through. You have to keep up with this stuff, just like the surgeon fixing your heart or brain. It’s your responsibility!
When all is clear, put you foot back on the accelerator again. Wow! You’re moving again. To operate a vehicle you really need to be able to see. It is the primary message coming to your brain to tell you what to do and where to go. So, where are you looking?
A “general rule of thumb” is to look high. Your eyes are pretty magical things and when you look high, you can capture most of the movement in your field of vision, most of the identifiers that tell you where you are on the road and most of the tell-tale signs of obstacles or clues (road signs /markers /traffic/ intersections/ pedestrians and kids, chasing balls) as to what action you might need take. Naturally, you’ll need to adjust your vision closer when things get intense. A very big thing to remember is that the faster you go, the less you see and the less time you have to react to danger.
For your own safety, you need to see and comprehend more than what is just in-front-of you. Partly, that’s where your mirrors come in. Glance at your mirrors every 5 to 8 seconds. You need to know everything that is going on around you, at all times. Capture where other vehicles are in relation to you with each glance. And, finally, you have to be aware of what’s beside you on both sides, all the time. Movement, reflectors and lights are your greatest helpers. It took a long, long time for the general public to get used to daytime running lights. People would yell at you: “You’re lights are on”!
Do you know when you’ll feel good about the 5 to 8 second mirror rule? When you spot a fully “lit-up” emergency vehicle coming behind you long before other drivers. Without that panicked feeling, you can find a safe place to pull over to get off the road.
A lot of drivers paid big fines when the following piece of legislation first came in without their knowledge. Ontario’s Move Over Law Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eByfC9LAVTc In Canada, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta have other specific “move over” laws and speeds you may have to abide by. (date researched) Research before you travel.
Your body has many parts and you might be amazed as to how many of them have a part to play in safe driving. 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