Category Archives: Safety Messages

THE BUSINESS “CULTURE OF SAFETY” by Nick Nicholson

It has been said that to make a successful business requires vision, drive, persistence and constant newer and bigger goals. A really big aspect is to ignore the naysayers who will tell you it can’t be done and there are lots of those.

One of the biggest mistakes, however, that business leaders make is not making “safety” a prime factor in the business. So many look at it as a “cost of doing business” and forget it or place it low on the priority list. If a workforce is part of the business, that workforce will take its leadership from the top and a low safety priority spreads very quickly. That’s the beginning of a downfall.

There is a “trickle down” effect that eventually gets to the customers and “word of mouth” leads to distrust and that leads to failure. It may happen very suddenly as these things tend to gain momentum. You don’t ever want to be in that “scramble” position.

So, where does a safety culture begin? It should start with the vision. No venture should begin unless it can be done safely. That key element must be passed from the leader to the first employee and everyone that is hired after that. Each person must be made aware that he or she is responsible for the safety of the whole unit. When any safety issue arises, the particular aspect involved should stop until the issue is overcome or, at least, “risk” evaluated. When it is overcome, it must be passed along immediately to educate the entire workforce. If that results in a policy, then each person must be informed, trained in prevention, and it must be verified that it is understood.

Any injury is a cost that the business can’t afford. Governments have spent billions reacting to injuries and drawing up rules and procedures for the prevention of injury repetition. These must become part of your business from the leader to the newest employee. There are very high costs involved that can be reduced to a minimum if, the workforce, the customers, and the general public are protected from injury. It is a wasted cost of doing business IF, management is not fully behind it and the workforce is not going to participate.

When a mistake happens, and they will, the organization must be doing well enough to override the costs. An extremely big part of that is controlling the expenditures as they relate to injuries and doing it very quickly.

The government intervention has resulted in a “no fault” insurance program to protect businesses from being sued by injured workers. The word “compensation” is often related to this intervention but the cost of this can be enormous. Originally designed to protect the business from crippling overheads, the administrative costs of government intervention today, can place a very heavy burden on business, unless you know how to minimize it.

Minimizing compensation costs requires full attention from the day of the injury. What many leaders do not realize is that governmental administration fees far outweigh the actual rehabilitation costs of any injury. Percentages in the thousands result in certain groups of employers paying billions of dollars more than actual injury costs. Action taken on the day of injury can save millions.

There is a partial solution. A safety culture within the organization, making everybody responsible, held to a high standard by continual reporting to the top executive is key. The slightest “ripple” is cause for immediate action.

First, is the culture of safety within your own organization. Making Bruce-in-safety-equipmentsure that everybody, from executive sales to the janitor understands that he or she is responsible for stopping what they believe to be an unsafe action, circumstance or hazard immediately before someone is injured. It also must be understood by all, that such action is to be applauded, not criticized. Only then, will the safety culture work. At no time, should any employee hesitate or fear reaction or reprisal from above, for stopping production due to a real or perceived safety issue. That last statement is paramount to producing a positive attitude within the workforce. The human brain delights in the feeling of being acknowledged, being listened to and knowing that the “boss” cares about each of them, personally. Again, it goes to the top.

Second, somebody must take the time to mitigate administration costs of the “no-fault” insurance system. “Injury-free” does not exclude an organization from high costs created by other businesses from past experiences. That governmental cost is built in as soon as the first employee is hired. That automatic government cost can be mitigated, either by the owner/CEO, a competent safety professional or human resources administrator, depending on the size of the organization. That action is key to keeping your profits from going to the government.

So, a “safety culture” is an internal responsibility system owned, respected and practiced by the entire workforce on a daily basis. There is a tremendous amount of information involved with this. The prime function is to keep everybody from injury or everything from collateral damage. The secondary function is to constantly embrace this process and encourage all to participate. The third is to set into place a process that minimizes the automatic governmental cost of being in business. That, by the way, is the “safety cost of doing business”. Ensure that it is kept to the bare minimum.

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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Happy Holidays from the Hamilton Niagara Fleet Safety Council

The members of the Hamilton Niagara Fleet Safety Council would like to take this time to wish you and your family all the best for the Holiday Season. May it be a safe and happy one.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Hamilton Niagara Fleet Safety Council
Hamilton Niagara Fleet Safety Council

 

What’s your tire plan for snow? By Nick Nicholson

There is a story about how a novice driver came into the house to say she was stuck in the snow. Her mother advised, “Rock it.”  Later, Mother went out to check on the progress. The car wasn’t moving at all but the driver was sitting in the front seat rocking her body back and forth.

Many people do not understand what happens when snow invades our world. We put oil in a pan to keep the food from sticking, we put grease on a bearing to make it rotate freely and we dry our hands off so we can grip the top of a jar to open it. All of these things operate on the same principle. Friction reduces with a lubricant. Snow is a lubricant between our boots or tires and the traction surface. If we could wipe all the snow off, we’d have good traction.

Every so often we get “stuck in the snow”. It might be right from, your parking space where you left the vehicle before it snowed. The correct answer is “rock it”. (the vehicle, not your body) If you have one-half inch of movement, you can get the vehicle out but, it takes a lot of patience and a cool head.

The object is to move the vehicle WITHOUT EVER SPINNING THE TIRES!  There is this lubricant between your tires and the ground called snow.  Sometimes, there is snow build up under your vehicle creating a greater resistance to movement. If you spin your tires on this stuff, it turns to ice and you lose any traction you might have had. That’s it! Go call a tow!

With a manual transmission, use the accelerator and clutch.  With an winter pictureautomatic, use the accelerator and the brake. With your half-inch of movement, put the vehicle in gear. Without accelerating to any degree, allow the vehicle to roll ahead until it stops on its own. Apply the brakes and change gears to the opposite direction. Again, release the brake and allow the vehicle to roll back until it stops on its own. As the vehicle moves, it is creating channels for the tires to roll in where there is now less resistance.  At the same time, any snow built up underneath is breaking down, again, creating less resistance. Repeat this process over and over again. Do NOT spin the tires!

With extreme patience, you will eventually find you have created long channels for your tires and snow height underneath that is broken down or pushed out of the way. Your vehicle will begin to gain small amounts of speed, all on its own with this gentle maneuvering with no resistance.  Depending on the height of the snow ahead of you, when you figure the channels are long enough that you can get enough speed to break through the snow piled up ahead, you are ready to try getting out. Resist the urgency to rush. Take your time.

Back the vehicle to the rear of your tire track channels and stop. Change gears, release the brakes and gently accelerate forward gaining speed through your channels without spinning and by now you should be able to break into the snow. With the same pressure on the accelerator, keep it going until you come to a place where you know you are free of the snow resistance on the front of the vehicle. If necessary, repeat, repeat and repeat until you’re out. Persistence until you run out of patience.

The only times I have ever experienced this failing is when ice ruts take you off the road into a ditch while making your channels (seven days later we were able to get a tow truck in far enough to get me out) or when you have a loaded, single drive axle, truck with a tag axle that is down. In the latter case, the tag wouldn’t allow the drive wheels enough traction to get it to move that half inch.

In winter time, it’s a good idea to leave your vehicle with a full fuel tank. This reduces the risk of moisture forming inside the tank resulting in water in your fuel. Another useful idea is to lift your wipers off the windshield so they don’t freeze to the glass and cover your windshield and mirrors to keep ice from forming.  A tea towel hung over your door before it’s closed can keep your doors from freezing on certain cars built without gutters above the doors.

If you are going into extremely cold climates, get rid of your aluminum rims before you go. Aluminum will contract so much in the cold that the tires will lose the seal and you’ll find all flats. Remember, in that type of climate, diesel fuel will gel up and become useless.

If you are on the road and have a CB radio, make sure it’s on so you get early warning of pileups or obstructions ahead.

Little tips;  If you are on an icy road, you can sometimes use the soft snow at the sides to get minimal traction. Driving through slush wets your brakes to the point ice forms – apply the brakes in a safe zone after slush to ensure the ice is broken off, giving you brakes again. Make sure you bleed those air brake tanks.

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

Winter Driving Starts With You By Nick Nicholson

Let me begin with a disclaimer.  There is no way I can cover all of the hazards of winter driving  here but, hopefully, I can cover some of the main obstacles you will encounter. Your best teacher is experience, and you just have to hope that the experiences you have are survivable and that you can learn quickly from them. You must get the “feel” of your vehicle.

The difference between summer and winter driving has to do with road-surface and friction or traction. In the summer, we basically have three types of surface to consider: various grades of gravel, dry or wet asphalt or concrete. There are some other considerations that come into play like transmission type, front, rear or all-wheel drive, weight and the type of equipment installed on your vehicle. That’s it.  BEWARE! The biggest fatal collisions in winter occur on sunny days!

Winter has a whole variance of conditions and surfaces to consider.  Those mentioned above and those affected by temperature, moisture, thickness and rigidity of that moisture. Terms like road spray, slick ice, hard ice, snow, slush, thick snow, snow drifts, snow plow berms and hard snow banks all fit into this category.  As drivers, we have constant decisions to make, not just about our driving but, what surface we’re driving on and what changing conditions are taking place as we move along. Often, visibility, lighting or shadows play a key part too.

So, winter driving takes much more brain power to handle and your brain has to be in gear as well as that of the vehicle. Your brain has to be active long before you get near your vehicle. Besides the usual vehicle pre-check, weather reports, particularly temperature, becomes vital to your plans. Traffic reports and routing may enter the equation. If you have the opportunity, practice handling your vehicle in snow on an open lot before venturing out. Test traction: stop, go and slide.

Make sure you clean the vehicle off so that you can see all available directions. Mechanics will tell you that starting the engine and immediately driving won’t hurt your vehicle. They may be right but, I have always insisted on warming up until you are getting warm air coming up through your windshield vents. Otherwise, you will likely get a few feet and have to stop because you still can’t see due to inside vapour. Bright sunshine in the eyes is the worst when this happens.

One enormous clue that you have is that when the road spray stops, you’re on ice. You know and must adjust for ramps, bridges, exits and shadows that freeze first. Slow down before these places and coast straight through them without making any sudden moves.  Wind, weight change, brake freezing, overpass heights and slopes will change the dynamics of your vehicle. Snow on the pavement raises your height so, if your roof clearance is tight, be careful.

Before and after intersections are likely to be icy. Car drivers love to spin their tires making more ice. Road surfaces built directly over hard rock faces will freeze first. (Canadian Shield).

Use your engine to control the vehicle instead of braking where you can. Gearing down provides much better control for winter driving. Know that your normal stopping distance has lengthened significantly. Your vehicle should be straight before using trailer brakes and remember your weight is increasing as snow and ice accumulate under the vehicle.

You will encounter “snow plow parades” and you are better to stay winter scenebehind them rather than taking a chance on passing. You know they do relatively short sections along political boundary lines before turning off. They will create snow berms at exits. Stay straight to hit those and be expecting them to throw your vehicle to one side so keep steady power to your drive wheels and be ready to correct with the steering until you are completely through.

The number one rule of thumb in winter is to is to drive slow enough that you can see and keep control, drive smoothly all the times, make no sudden moves and stay off the brakes. Try to get the longest visibility you can and know that inexperienced drivers will create hazards directly in-front-of-you.

Be visible yourself.  LED tail lights usually are not hot enough to melt snow so clean them frequently. If you step out of your vehicle, make sure you are visible to others. Safety vests are good but, strobe lights attached to you are better.

Remember, there are no guarantees!  You are on your own out there so be as prepared as possible and think before you make any moves. Learn your own moves but learn everybody else’s moves as well because the stupid ones will make them again and again.  You can’t fix stupid.
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

WHAT WE HAVE HERE IS A FAILURE …..by Nick Nicholson

Just before midnight on 3 Jan 1979 I fell roughly 20 feet onto ice. Once I caught my breath (not knowing I was in “shock”), I continued to work for another half hour or so and then decided my “sprain” might be something more so I drove myself to a hospital. There is a long story of how I got into the Emergency Department but I eventually did and I had a great humorous time with a pretty technician on our way to X-ray.

She took the X-rays and then became very quiet. I was trying to figure out what off-colour thing I had said to her when she stopped pushing my wheelchair at the intersection of two hallways. She left me and went down a hall to talk to someone. A guy pushing a laundry cart came along and said to me, “Well fellow, it appears that you’re in bad shape and they’re saying you’re never going to walk again!” “Gee, thanks, buddy. I needed to know that little tidbit of information.”

Apparently true, they couldn’t deal with my injury in-house so, they packed me into an ambulance and shipped me off to another hospital for an operation which I actually didn’t have for several days. Two or three more trips to the operating room and then infection set in. That was the beginning of a very long 2-year haul where in time, I learned how to walk again …… somewhat. Ultimately, they made me special boots that allowed me to walk normally for about the next 35 years.

The medical profession has one huge drawback. They are all divided into specialities and there is nobody that looks at the whole picture. Each, knows their job very well. Surgeons cut, drill, saw, and screw. Nurses dress wounds, clean and make sure your vitals are stable. Technicians do their thing and they all send reams of paper back and forth. The family doctor really doesn’t get involved. Keep in mind, I’m talking 40 years ago. I have little recent experience.

There is, or was, one big huge neglected area and that’s the patient’s mental condition. In my case, I became very depressed (on the inside). To me, I became useless and totally dependent upon other people. I had no purpose, I had no goals of my own and I was satisfied to do whatever anybody told me to do. This carried on long after I was supposedly healed and working again.

During this period I became a real “a– -whole”. My marriage broke up, I lost my home and the kids scattered anywhere but near me. My employer, so called friends and religious connections all disappeared and I tried for a while but, eventually, just gave up.

The lady that eventually became my new wife turned me around. She saw through it and with encouragement from her and by gaining confidence in a new job, we (together) eventually went on to accomplish (what to me were) great things. That famous “attitude” I often speak of, finally changed for the better.

Looking back, I think the medical profession should have been Nick-2015looking for, recognized and treated my mental ailment. The compensation board had not yet learned the lessons of the future. The employer did not supply what today, is called “modified work”. Had they, the outcome might have been very different. The real big secret is to get the patient’s mind away from self-examination. That turns into self-pity and it is a major mental destroyer of human beings. I was very, very lucky. I never contemplated suicide but, we know that happens, too.

From a safety practitioner point of view, if you can’t prevent, watch your injured workers carefully. Find something with real purpose that the worker can still do and get them going on it quickly. If it’s a long term injury then, a long term project is needed. A city firefighter I once met designed maps for each truck showing the nooks, crannies, and hazards of neighbourhoods. One of our drivers “easy coded” customer locations across several cities still being used today. It can be done. There are projects that people can do. All you have to do is find them and keep them busy. Always remember, when the injured worker is on “modified” they are saving the company far more money in compensation costs than they ever could earn for the company working their normal hourly rated job.

The worker needs to know that for self-esteem, the fellow co-workers need to know that so they don’t minimize the value of the worker and the company “bean counter” needs to know that so that they can see the true bottom line. Of course, you have to convince the CEO of all this first.  It must come from the very top.

A broken body still has a brain. Do whatever you have to, to make “modified” succeed. Show the workforce the advantages that the injured worker creates, especially if it makes functions easier and better for them. The advantage of “modified work” must be communicated to the entire workforce and suddenly, your job becomes a whole lot easier.

If you don’t, you’ll find that you can now complete the quote from the very beginning of this article: “WHAT WE HAVE HERE IS A FAILURE TO ….. COMMUNICATE.”
Keep your people safe.

The beauty of life is in your hands.
THINK SAFETY ……… EVERYWHERE ……….. ALL THE TIME


The boots I still wear daily from that 1979 injury:

Nick's BootsI’m not accustomed to making “selfies”. I held the camera so that I could see it on the screen and therefore the boots appear to be on the wrong feet. The little pouch? My Nitro spray.

Boot manufacturer- these boots built Feb 2014: Ambulatory Footwear – http://www.afw.ca/
Possible source of light duty (“modified”) jobs:

http://www.safetyawakenings.com/examples-of-light-duty-transitional-jobs-claim-reduction/

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

WHAT’CHA DRIVIN’ ?? by Nick Nicholson

Recently, after one of my posts negatively mentioning 10 & 2 steering, I was questioned as to what the proper steering technique should be today. (By the way, if those numbers mean nothing to you, it’s a reference to the hands on an analog clock. 10, being two digits left of the top dead centre of the steering wheel and 2 being an equal distance to the right.) The driver’s hands grip the steering wheel at these two points. Theoretically, full control of steering at all times.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with full 10 & 2 holding Nick-2015your thumbs outside the steering wheel but, you should know the reason. That advice historically came from farmers who, driving tractors without power steering, worked among the furrowed fields that would catch the front wheels, turning them quickly which, in turn, spun the steering wheel. The results were many broken thumbs when the spokes on the steering wheel caught the driver’s hand while spinning. It hurt like hell, the tractor went out of control, and the next month’s workload just became harder. The 10 & 2 hand location gave their arms the necessary power to grip and control the steering wheel in a semi-stable position.

Most of today’s vehicles are built with all the comforts you can think of. Ads on TV right now are advertising equipment to drown out the engine sounds. I remember rear mounted engines that you couldn’t hear and you had to watch the rpm’s to know when to shift. Of course, that’s covered now, as well. Almost all new vehicles, including trucks, are automatic – no shifting required!

My recommendation for steering today on vehicles with power everything? Four (4) and eight (8). Why? The ergonomic position for the driver is the most comfortable. You don’t have aching shoulders from reaching at the end of the day. If armrests are available, the elbow on the armrest allows the wrist and fingers to make the minimum steering movements needed to control the vehicle on modern paved highways. Drivers oversteering is a bigger problem these days.

When airbags deploy, they come from the centre of the steering wheel. The blast is significant to save you but, the bag itself wraps out over the wheel portion where your arms are trapped with a “death-grip” at the 10 & 2 position. That portion of airbag coming to be supported by the steering wheel has large exhaust holes, now facing forward in the vehicle, right over the backs of your arms. Extremely hot gasses are exploding out through those holes resulting in severe burns. Alternatively, if your 10 & 2 grip on the steering wheel was loose, your arms are blown out to either side increasing the chances of broken arms and an uncontrolled vehicle.

In any emergency steering procedure, you hands will automatically go to the top of the wheel in the hand over hand motion. If there is a lot of correcting to do for several moments, no other method can turn the wheel fast enough unless you are “palming” the wheel. The chance of losing contact with the wheel increases significantly when palming. Very difficult to re-grasp during a collision.

You’ve all heard of ESP. Most of you will not likely associate those letters with modern vehicles where they mean: Electronic Stability Program. So, what is that you may ask?

ESP is a computer operated program that automatically improves a vehicle’s stability by detecting and reducing a loss of traction (skidding). When ESP detects the loss of steering control, it automatically applies the brakes to help “steer” the vehicle where the driver intends to go. Braking is automatically applied to wheels individually, such as the outer front wheel to counter oversteer or the inner rear wheel to counter understeer. Some ESP systems also reduce engine power until control is regained.  It is so fast that, you realize the vehicle is correcting but you can’t figure out how until after it is done. You automatically think “correct by steering into the skid” and it’s corrected before you can move.

Another piece of modern technology is ABS. An anti-lock braking system or anti-skid braking system (ABS) is an automobile safety system that allows the wheels on a motor vehicle to maintain tractive contact with the road surface according to driver inputs while braking, preventing the wheels from locking up (ceasing rotation) and avoiding uncontrolled skidding. It is an automated system that uses the principles of threshold braking and cadence braking which were practiced by skilful drivers with previous generation braking systems. It does this at a much faster rate and with better control than a driver could manage.

This can surprise you when it activates. You often feel a rapid pulsation under your foot with hydraulic brakes. That’s the system braking until just before wheel lock-up and releasing again. You may feel a vibration in the seat. The single biggest difference with ABS is that you continue to “hard” brake never giving up on steering and you look and steer to where you want to go.

Keep your people safe.
The beauty of life is in your hands.
THINK SAFETY ……… EVERYWHERE ……….. ALL THE TIME

Sources: Wikipedia

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

“FREE” DOWNLOAD: UPDATE 101 by Nick Nicholson

How many of you would go years without updating your Smartphone, tablet or laptop? I think, not very many. Commodore 64, anyone? And yet, most drivers will go from age 16 to 80 without ever updating their driving skills or knowledge and they don’t give it a second thought. Driving is probably the most dangerous thing you do in your whole life (bungee jumpers excepted) and you don’t need an update? Come on! Are you still driving your first car?

Unless forced to attend by the courts or an employer, most will Nick-2015never take a driving course of any kind throughout their driving years. Many, never have a problem and that’s great. Perhaps, they don’t drive far either.

Many never realize that they ARE the problem and many never realize that (according to crash risk statistics) they are about to have a really big problem. (Often involves statements like “death” or “maimed for life”.) That’s not so great!

Apparently, from some of the  responses I’ve been getting, the general public are reading my stuff. I want to spread as much of this as I can, to as many as I can, in hopes of keeping all people safe on our roads. I have assembled a few tips that might just help those of you who have no intention of ever taking that refresher course. My best recommendation, if you can? Go to “SKID SCHOOL”!

DEFENSIVE DRIVING is driving to avoid collisions: “driving to save lives, time, and money, IN SPITE OF the conditions around you and the actions of others.” -National Safety Council

SPACE CUSHION: Maintaining a safe reaction and stopping distance behind the vehicle ahead. Nicky’s recommendation in a car under ideal circumstances – 3 seconds.
When the back bumper of the vehicle ahead passes a stationary object on the side of the road, begin counting “one-thousand and one”, “one-thousand and two”, “one-thousand and three”. If your front bumper passes that same stationary object before the word “three”, you are too close.  Back-off and begin your counting again. Do that for 33 days in a row and it’ll become a habit.
KEEP YOUR EYES MOVING. Make a habit of moving your eyes to see things far off in the distance, up close in front, from side to side and alternate to your mirrors every 5 to 8 seconds. Knowing what’s all around you can provide you with that correct evasive maneuver in the proper direction when it’s needed.

FORCED INTO A NARROW SPACE?  When you think you are being forced into a space that is too narrow to fit, and can’t stop, look up at tree level and keep going. You may be surprised to find that you drive precisely into the middle of the opening, in many cases getting through unscathed. Your peripheral vision will keep you centered. No peeking down at anything at ground level, though! Keep looking up until you are clear.

ALWAYS LOOK TOWARD WHERE YOU WANT TO GO!  For whatever reason your vehicle begins to lose control swaying to one side or the other, always keep looking at where you want to go. You’ll automatically steer towards it and chances are that you will end up there.  No matter how tired your arms get from fast steering changes, NEVER GIVE UP!

IF YOU CRASH!
ALWAYS stay put in your seat, buckled up until you are sure everything else around you has completely stopped. Resist the urge to get out of your vehicle until you KNOW it’s safe.

BRIGHT LIGHTS IN YOUR EYES?  Intentionally look down along the right edge of the roadway until the lights pass. It will momentarily blind you but, will keep you safely within your lane. Your eyes will readjust to the darkness quicker again once the lights have passed.

DRUNK DRIVERS OFTEN DON’T GET HURT!  The reason is that they remain loose before the crash. If you see that a crash is inevitable, loosen up before the impact. You’ll have less severe injuries. By the way, the same thing applies if you fall while walking. Loosen up on the way down and roll.  You’ll be less likely to hurt yourself.

NEVER CROSS YOUR LEGS AS A PASSENGER!  A frontal impact will hit the crossed leg first and snap your pelvis instantly. The same goes for resting your FEET ON THE DASH. An activated airbag will drive your knees into your chest breaking your sternum or severely smashing your face.

 FORCED INTO A GUARDRAIL – STICK WITH IT.  If you are sideswiped and driven into a metal guard rail, try to steer slightly in, to stay along the guardrail. Your vehicle is already smashed and you are likely unhurt. You don’t want to be spun out into traffic to be “T-boned” by those behind who will try to avoid you.

A second type of guardrail (known as a “Jersey Barrier”) is usually made of concrete, has a lip along the bottom edge, and sits beside a wide shoulder lane. This lip is designed to keep you traveling in the same direction on your own side of the highway rather than fly over the barrier. If you catch that lip. it will cause your vehicle to roll over to the right. Your snugged up seatbelt is now your best friend.

COUNTRY INTERSECTIONS – 2-LANE ROADS. People often use country roads to avoid traffic. As well, drunks and thieves, in particular, use them to avoid the cops.
There are certain hazards you need to be cautious about:
Stopping on a gravel road can take a much longer distance than on pavement.
A yellow diamond-shaped sign indicating an intersection ahead is telling you not to pass.
Many drivers making a right turn from a country road will only look to their left and then pull out onto a main road without stopping. If you’re passing someone on the intersecting road, you are now in the direct path of a “head-on” collision.
Never expect large farm equipment to stop, signal or share the road. Stay away and let them clear. If you’re following slowly behind any piece of equipment, make sure your 4-way flashers are on.

RAILROAD CROSSINGS CLOSE TO HOME – DANGER! It seems that the closer railroad crossings are to our home, the more dangerous they become. We become so accustomed to not seeing a train on local crossings that we become blasé about them. We are more likely to pay attention to crossings when away. By the way, property beside all rail lines is private.  You can be charged with trespassing.

SOME RAILROAD CROSSINGS HAVE GATES. If you are part way across a set of tracks and the gate still ahead of you comes down, drive on to break through it and avoid being hit by the train. Most gates in Canada only block the one side of the road that traffic is expected to come from. Remember, almost every set of rail warning lights or gates you see means that, at least three people have died at that crossing. That was the criteria to erect crossing warnings at one time.

THE 2ND TRAIN!
Every railroad crossing with more than one set of tracks in Canada and most in the US are marked with the number – ( 2 TRACKS, 4 TRACKS, etc.)  Many people have been killed when they are impatient waiting for a train to pass and start away when the last car clears.  A second train, coming from the opposite direction, arriving at precisely the same time has killed many people.

People have died by trying to race a train. At a double-crossing, they die perhaps differently than what you might expect!  All eyes in the vehicle, including the kids while cheering the driver on, are watching the only train they are aware of right up until the last second. Thinking they have beat it, they proceed on to the tracks. Never thinking of a train coming from the opposite direction, that’s the one that kills whole families.

RAILROADS – Something to note: If you come across an incident at a rail crossing, there is a 1-800 number and the crossing reference number painted on, either the back side of the RR crossbuck warning or on a little (usually painted silver) signal building near the crossing. This number connects directly with the railroad and by giving the crossing number, you can warn those in control.

SAVE YOUR BABY!  Learn to back-in and drive-out of driveways.

 Your Old Uncle Nicky Note:
This is a little longer than my normal post but, there are so many of these tips that people never learn that I wanted to shove a few more in. THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES! Perhaps, it can save somebody. Maybe, even you. Many, many more tips exist in driving courses.
Possibly, I can tantalize you a bit by checking out some of my previous general audience posts. Articles like “Attitude”; “Iceberg Road Rage”; “Road Aider”; “Tire Failure” and “Who’s There? at:

https://hamiltonniagarafleetsafetycouncil.com/?s=old+uncle+nicky

Keep your people safe.

The beauty of life is in your hands.

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

WHO’S THERE? By Nick Nicholson

Okay! Enough, with the “knock-knock” jokes, you guys! There are millions of drivers who have billions of thoughts going through their minds as they drive. Hopefully, most of these folks are stable but, we know that that there are many who aren’t.  It has been said that ten percent of the population are alcoholics, that another eighteen percent have diagnosed mental illness, that eighty-six percent are taking prescribed, or not, drugs. These, the jokesters, the lipstick touch-ups, and many other conditions must be considered when we drive.

Have you ever actually watched the majority of people drive? Other Nick-2015than brand new drivers and those who seldom go out on the road, (you know the type – death grip on the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 position, driving so cautiously as to create a menace) the majority of drivers put no thought into their driving. For the most part, drivers have become so accustomed to driving without a problem that they relax thinking they can handle whatever comes along effortlessly. To them, it’s no big deal …. anybody can do it …….. until they can’t!

The highest rate of collisions for you is within 25 miles/40 klms of your home. This is where people do the majority of their driving.  This is the area you are most familiar with and this is the place where your guard is down. It’s easy, right?  You know it like the back of your hand, right? This is the place where other drivers, dogs, kids and distractions take your mind off your driving and put you in peril. It’s also the place where, if you have been on a long trip, you relax thinking you’ve made it safely. You haven’t made it until it is safely parked! You would think this is a “no-brainer” but, actively paying attention to your driving, wearing a properly adjusted seatbelt actually makes you a better driver.

Talking Seatbelts? – the best seatbelts are those designed for race cars and spacecraft. Two shoulders locked down and a restraint spread evenly across the pelvis. In your family car, snugness evenly spread across the pelvis is paramount. The body’s bone structure provides the best protection. I see so many people hop in the car, swing the belt around until it clicks and then drive off with the belt loosely across their belly. Disaster for your “gut” if you get banged.  Another bad one that I often see is, standard seatbelts are not comfortable for the female body. I see so many tuck the shoulder belt under their left armpit to make it more comfortable in the chest area. In a frontal or rear-end crash, the whole upper body will snap to the left often doing long term damage. A belt pulled snugly across the pelvis with the shoulder belt flat across the center of the chest is your best bet. It holds you in place for the airbag impact and for the second impact which you hadn’t even considered.

So who do you have to think about when you’re driving?  We see the evidence every day. The mentally ill trying to commit suicide or worse, aiming at you in retaliation for their thoughts. A joyrider loses control. Of course, the drunk who just can’t decide which of the views available to him/her is the right one. By the way, that person often isn’t the big drinker. It’s the one who momentarily made a poor choice and thought they could get away with it, just this once.

If you look at our population, it’s hard to find someone who is not on some form of medication (legal or not). All drugs can have some side effect. Do you really trust every driver out there to be fully capable, all of the time?  Is the driver coming toward you fatigued? Have they just stopped for a big greasy meal, are now sleepy but, won’t pull over so soon after taking a break?  Are they staring at some point off in the distance in a trance?

Then, there are the idiots. Weaving in and out of traffic, following too close, knowingly driving an unsafe vehicle, pushing the envelope to make it to some destination in a self-imposed hurry (Tim Horton’s). Consider the ones that scare me enormously, the “Donor” cyclists who recklessly scream past us at phenomenal speeds. “Donors” – young with healthy hearts, livers, lungs, etc.

If you were being operated on for “open-heart” surgery by a surgeon who was, drunk, high on drugs, hadn’t washed, is mentally unstable and so on, would you feel confident?  I doubt it but, if he or she makes an error, only one person dies – you!  When an out-of-control driver makes a mistake, any number of people and their combined families, friends and co-workers can be severely broken for years. Lately, we have terrorists. Please consider this when you get behind the wheel.

Before you get in, make sure you are physically and mentally fit for the job ahead. Know the vehicle you are driving and what special equipment is on board (anti-lock brakes, electronic stability programs, etc.).  Make sure your vehicle is the safest it can be including things as seemingly insignificant as clean glass and mirrors. Strap yourself in safely. Pay strict attention to what you are doing until you get there. Be aware of your speed, space-cushion, braking ability, road, weather conditions and long distance vision. Know you are in complete control.

In spite of adverse conditions and the actions of others, your goal is to drive to avoid collisions and those of everybody else around you,

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

PREVENTABILITY – WHY?By Nick Nicholson

I recently discovered that many people in transportation, don’t understand the significance of Collision Review Committees or “preventability”. They have varying erroneous thoughts as to what “preventability” actually means.

We so often hear: “What do you mean “preventable”? The other guy was charged, not me!” The purpose is not to decide fault nor does it signify who should be charged! No, it’s not to decide punishment! It’s not to compare drivers and, its purpose is not who gets a safety pin at the end of the year.

The purpose of a Collision Review Committee should be something like a Court Ordered Inquest. It’s to find causation for the mishap, Nick-2015find ways of keeping it from happening again, making recommendations to change policy if necessary and to supply information for training.

It is a review that should only be conducted by drivers who are familiar with the same kind of conditions faced daily. The involved driver should never be identified – there is no place for bias on this committee. Use a crash numbering system.

In my opinion, management’s function should not exceed that of the facilitator. In the committees I served on (safety rep), my only voting function was that of a “tie breaker” and that happened twice in twenty-five years.

When reading a collision report, assessing crash photographs, diagrams, witness statements and driver explanations, the committee members should be able to picture themselves in the exact same position and circumstances. Today, dash cams recording ten seconds before and after impact should be utilized in your fleet.

With the proper training, members should be able to clearly visualize what preceded the crash, at the point of impact and what followed the initial or subsequent crashes. They should be able to apply their experiences to a situation to see if they think they could have reasonably avoided the same outcome by something they might or, might not have done.

This is why collision reports should have as much detail as possible and explain the driver’s thoughts and feelings as well as actions. Only someone who is familiar with the dynamics of heavy vehicles knows the sensations/feelings felt when a vehicle is in trouble. There comes a point before impact when you realize the vehicle is out of your control.

To me, this is the practical reason for a safety practitioner to attend a collision scene. To get as much information as possible that others (police, courts, media, etc.) don’t gather and don’t care about. Knowing the needs of the committee, I often accompanied the driver to a coffee shop afterwards to assist the driver writing the collision report.

The committee’s job then is to decipher, make recommendations, report, and management’s is to publicize. If nobody learns from it, there’s no sense doing it.

Committees should have three choices: “Preventable”, Non-Preventable and, “Preventable, with an explanation”. I found the third category useful in situations where an action was taken to avoid one situation, resulting in another. There were also collisions where a driver was attempting to mitigate a much more serious, life-threatening, crash by driving it off the road.

Experienced, “preventable” collision free, driver committee members know the requirements. These are reasonable. If the crash driver didn’t follow them then, in all likelihood, the committee would decide the collision was “preventable”.

During the pre-trip inspection, if the driver found something unsafe but, the dispatcher demanded the vehicle be driven, then two people share the responsibility of preventability. It’s still preventable by the driver! The company now has a bigger part to play!

If the committee decides that the crash driver, once faced with the circumstances, had taken every reasonable precaution to avoid a collision then, non-preventable is the judgement. This seldom happens. Often, preplanning like increased “space cushion”, driving for conditions, etc. could have avoided the circumstances.

A “wheel-off” bounces from another vehicle and strikes a windshield would be the type of case deemed “non-preventable”. In this case, the committee would still try to find a solution to make this situation preventable. They invented wheel cages for tire technicians, why not for moving trucks or busses. Perhaps the committee could request that the employer installs them or lobby the government.

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

Parent Safety Tips by Nick Nicholson

Children are precious! Help protect them with these important Nick-2015safety tips.

Parents: GET YOUR MISSING CHILD BACK
A parent’s worst nightmare is losing a child.
Take a cell phone picture (every day if you need to) of your child as they leave for events, gatherings, parades, dances, outings, etc. BEFORE they leave. It captures what they look like and what they are wearing. Save that picture on your phone until the next one is taken.

Parents: KNOW YOUR CHILD IS SAFE AT A DISTANCE
Buy you child (children) recognizable headbands for swimming. The security you feel when you can count your children’s heads while they are in the water at a beach or park is wonderful.

MALL SAFETY CARE:
When taking a toddler shopping, have them attached to you with a wristband leash. Your eyes will be looking elsewhere and your hands will be clutching your purse.
TEACH YOUR CHILD THAT “STOP SIGNS” DON’T STOP TRAFFIC:
Especially kids getting off a school bus and crossing in-front-of the vehicle. Teach them to halt behind the edge of the bus and look left, right and left again before actually crossing the open lane. (North America)

PARENT’S RESPONSIBILITY:
As a parent, grandparent or guardian make sure you are carrying your child’s emergency information with you at all times. Contact and insurance policy numbers, diseases, medications, a photo and description of the child.
“ICE” YOUR PHONE:
To emergency response personal, “ICE” means “In Case of Emergency”. Set up your phone so that there are at least, 3 emergency contacts from your contact list entitled “ICE 1″, ICE 2” and “ICE 3”. Name the person to contact along with phone numbers where they can be reached. Responders will look for the letter “I” first when you are found unconscious at a scene.

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.