Category Archives: Safety with Uncle Nicky

It’s your life – you need to be seen by others! by Nick Nicholson

Looking at recent TV news, I saw how three people died in a motorcycle/SUV crash. A young male driver and his female passenger on the motorcycle and the male driver of an SUV. Very tragic. Why?

Seeing the TV footage, it instantly told me that it was a “T-bone” collision. One vehicle crashes into the side of another. In this case, it was obvious to me that the motorcycle went into the driver’s door of a vehicle. It was also obvious by the amount of crush, that high speed on the part of the motorcycle was involved.

I don’t know what type of motorcycle was used but, I can almost Nick-2015guess it was one known as a “crotch rocket’ or what the medical profession refer to as a “donor cycle”. Why do they give it that name? Because nearly every person killed on one is young, healthy and have useable body parts for the medical organ donor programs. These are the people who seem attracted to this type of motorcycle. They seek excess speed and thrill. Their brains have not yet matured to the point of having a balanced fear. The old (fear-experienced) folks (not that they don’t die on motorcycles) tend to drive “cruisers” and take fewer chances.

So, let’s look at this type of collision and what may have caused it. I have no evidence, no reports, nor have I reconstructed the collision, so, this is total theory. First, this was preventable. Both drivers could have avoided it.

The SUV driver had a destination in mind for this trip. It included making a left turn at a city intersection according to the news commentator.

If the SUV driver looked before entering the intersecting pathway, how far do you suppose he looked. As human beings tend to drive by old habits rather than safety conscious thinking, the SUV driver would likely look as far one would normally (from experience) expect to see a vehicle coming that might intersect with his. Within a speed limited city, that would reasonably be around 500 feet. (150m). When no movement is detected during this two-second view, the driver automatically proceeds into the cross path. I can assume, in the best case scenario, that this is what happened. (Your defense? – look (study) as far as you can.)

On the motorcycle, the passenger normally has no control over the bike other than to scream her fear into the driver’s ear. Beyond that, hang on as tight as she could in hopes that somehow they get through every situation without touching anything. (Your defense? – if you don’t trust the driver to be sensible, stay home.)

This motorcycle driver had a serious judgment problem. For whatever reason, this driver chose to speed beyond the limits the engineer designed into that road for safety. When speeding beyond what people reasonably come to anticipate, your life’s expectancy drops dramatically. This fellow included his girlfriend and the other driver with him, taking their lives as well.

In no way am I recommending speeding but, in all scenarios with any kind of motorcycle, your visibility to others becomes paramount. Having lived in Southern Ontario for years I have made a point every Friday the 13th to watch motorcycles coming toward me on long stretches of highway. Thousands of motorcycles head to Port Dover on that date for a celebration that has become a tradition.

From the furthest distance away, the motorcycles that stand out first in any group, are those that when they get up close enough to see, have three headlights. Usually, they’re in a row across in-front-of the handlebars. From that discovery, I have always urged motorcyclists to install (at least) three headlights on their rides.

Human beings react to light and movement. As a motorcycle comes toward you, there is no sideways movement to draw your attention but a wide grouping of bright lights gives you a much better chance of seeing the bike. You notice it because it’s bright, wide and different.

There is a solution that is better. I have seen it on American bikes but not so much in Canada. Those are fluctuating or modulating headlights. The lights themselves, move up and down in a regular pattern which draws the eye because it is both light and movement at the same time. (like emergency vehicle headlights) This, to me, is the best safety precaution one could take to be seen on a motorcycle. These should be mandatory in my opinion. I have attached a link to a video of the “plug & play” modulating motorcycle light harness.

Fluctuating motorcycle lights video:

Learn more at: http://www.signaldynamics.com/plugandplay

The beauty of life is in your hands ……..
THINK ABOUT YOUR OWN 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

Truckers Implicated in Another Fatal Crash

Another huge crash on a 400 series highway again with multiple fatalities. As I understand it, there was a previous collision backing up traffic some distance ahead and one trucker failed to stop in time. My friends, jumping on Facebook were quick to criticize inattentive driving and cell phone/texting as a likely cause. (Today’s excuse for everything.) In a statement, one friend had this idea:

“Trust me when I say this is not meant as a dig or generalization of all truckers but I do put a considerable amount of windshield time in. Every time I’m on the road I see distracted transport truck drivers. I’ve seen countless tractor-trailers crossing lines into other lanes only to come along beside them and find them with their phone in hand texting on the wheel or with it up to their ear. I’m at a point now if I have to pass a transport I switch lanes if possible or accelerate to get past them because I don’t want to ever be beside one.

Let’s face it every driver out there has crossed over the lines at one Nick-2015time or another. Reaching for a coffee, changing the radio station, looking at the scenery, not to mention the volumes of idiots in passenger vehicles I see with their phone in hand every day! We have a serious problem on our roads that is killing people daily. Here are a couple of suggestions for solutions:

1) There should be technology installed in cell phones that disables them from making outgoing calls, answering incoming calls or texting when the phone is mobile unless connected to a secured, hands-free system.

2) All transport trucks should be equipped with lane sensor technology. My wife has it in her vehicle and it is quite remarkable! You can adjust the distance to the car in front of you to 2 or 3 vehicles and the system tracks and keeps your distance and will slow the vehicle to keep the separation or stop the vehicle to prevent a collision. The system also keeps the vehicle from ever being able to wander out of the lane! It’s quite incredible technology and I truly believe it can save lives.”
(my friend Vic Berzins)

I like Vic’s suggestion and would like to see this as standard equipment on all vehicles, not just trucks. I can see some obstacles to having this implemented regarding the changing weight and load dynamics with commercial vehicles. Not to say it can’t be done but, not likely in my lifetime.

I agree with Vic that one should get past big trucks whenever possible, with as much space as possible. There are a lot more reasons for this than what he mentioned. My personal opinion is that drivers following too close cause the majority of the mishaps on our highways. I like the fact that Vic is offering solutions. Most people just criticize without any thought.

I don’t know why this particular driver failed to stop but, I’d like to add this thought to Vic’s technology suggestion:

For at least, the last 27 years in Britain, on “M” (Motorways – highways like 400 series) there have been message board, electronic road signs every few hundred feet that light up indicating stoppages on the path ahead. I made fun of them when I was there because the message on the sign was usually “Slow Police Ahead”. It included whatever reduced speed you should adopt. The advised speed got slower the closer you were to the stoppage. My sarcastic comment was always “Those poor dumb witted, slow thinking, British Police.”

If Ontario can erect huge signs that tell you that it is so many minutes to such, and such an exit or transfer point, then surely this kind of advanced warning can be installed. All that’s needed is something to catch the driver’s eye warning of problems ahead. Race tracks have had warning flag systems forever. Panic actions or stops have always been traffic’s worst hazards in any situation.

Keep in mind that Ontario licenses 30,000 new drivers every year and only the worst of the worst ever have to retest until they reach age 80. For the most part, truckers and bus drivers with safety-conscious fleets are usually the only ones taking regular driver training/refreshing.

When I was still actively teaching Defensive Driving, our drivers had to attend my course once every year. Beyond the very first mandatory commercialized Defensive Driving Course they had to take, set by the various safe driving organizations, our drivers came back annually to my own specialized course designed specifically to address the daily hazards they faced. I found those drivers to be very participative, attentive and appreciative on a regular basis, This was especially so when they were proud to take home their certificate which declared them to be “Defensive Driving Specialists”. They could “stick their chest out” and be proud of their ability. I believe that pride made them safer on the road. They certainly carried those certificates with them regularly and were quick to point out when the next course was due.

I would like to add one more point. Regardless of what we do, there are no guarantees of safety anywhere or at any 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

 

Do you have an Emergency Response Plan? By Nick Nicholson

This is very long because I’ve included the actual Emergency Response Plan that I kept on hand when I was working. My thinking is that maybe safety people who have never given it any thought might find it useful as a guide to make their own preparations.

I hope this helps:

23 EMERGENCY RESPONSE

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

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

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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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

Prepare for WINTER WONDERLAND with Nick Nicholson

People tend to look back in awe at their childhood when we see those words. Magical days off from school, high snow drifts and angels in the snow. Mind you, we were shorter, everything was bigger. Somebody was there to warm you up when you came in and it was a cozy and carefree world. Today, we tend to “wonder” if we can make it through another “winter”!

Preparation is key to safely driving through winter. Time to get winter scenespecial equipment on board. Starting with you, pack winter gear to protect yourself because, no matter what you think, you cannot predict what elements are going to confront us out there. Whether you wear them or take them with you make sure you have warm winter socks and boots, gloves and a winter coat. Preferably a reflective coat or safety vest, and a small powerful flashlight. A small safety kit is a good idea too.

Think of your vital medications. Everybody seems to be prescribed something these days. Do you carry extras in case you can’t make it home when you think you will?

There was a famous tanker explosion near Cobourg back in 2007 where drivers were stranded in their vehicles for over 24 hours on a stretch of the 401 without food, water or toilet facilities. There was quite a hue and cry about that because supplies were brought to the emergency personal but not to stranded drivers along the exact same route. Are you prepared for that?

So, consider adding to your personal winter supplies, some sort of non-perishable food (energy bars, etc.), (canned) heat and container to melt snow or thaw water bottles, something to catch the human body’s waste products and a roll or two of toilet paper. A source of heat should be included in case you run out of fuel or lose electrical power in your vehicle.(“canned heat” with cigarette lighter is good.)

It wasn’t funny but, years ago, newspaper readers were amused at a photograph of a police officer desperately trying to make radio contact using the cruiser’s two-way when the entire front of the vehicle had been sheered off.

Look at your lifestyle to see what other things you might need and pack it all in a carry-on type case that you can bring inside to keep from freezing.

So, before you hit the road, is your vehicle ready for winter. Antifreeze, oil density, and winter tires are things to consider during the fall each year. Air brake freeze up and bleeder valves have to be a consideration. With foul-weather, certain things are going to change.

An excess of windshield-washer fluid is likely to be needed. A good ice scraper and snow brush will be necessary as well as lock-de-icer/anti-fog and probably a shovel. What do you have to assist the drive wheels in snow and ice conditions? Cat litter? Can you get the store clerks wagering on how many cats you own? How about the accumulation of snow and ice up-on-top of your vehicle. Will that have to be cleared, either for your own safety, as a courtesy to others or by law in certain jurisdictions? Then, of course, there’s always the weight of snow and ice accumulation on your vehicle.  Will that matter to you?

We don’t see chains as much as we used to but, some areas still require them. Do you really know where you are going to be before you get home again?

Winter trips take longer with the foul weather. Have you considered where you might be when you run out of hours or need to pull off for fatigue? The strain of winter driving can take much longer and exhaust you much quicker than a nice leisurely drive in the summer.

In bussing, are there special considerations you have to make for your passengers during winter as opposed to summer. “Ladies to the right” and “Gents to the left” doesn’t work well in snow banks and you just know they have to go more often. Seriously, though, you know somebody is going to carry something in the baggage area that will freeze. You also know that tourists leave their brain at home. Do they have something to wear besides those shorts they have on?

How about the load you’re carrying?  We know hard liquor doesn’t freeze but we are not so sure about the other liquids you might be lucky enough to be carrying. There’s a lot at stake.

There IS a solution to all of this you know. A driver from Mexico once told me to never drive North of Interstate 40 in the winter time. I didn’t say it was practical!
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

APPRECIATION by Nick Nicholson

Recently I was very honoured to receive the Risk/Safety Professional of the Year Award from nominations submitted by Glen Harvey and George Skotidas, fellow Members of our FSC Chapter.

Inside, I don’t really feel I deserve this but, I am thrilled that the most important people in my life and that surround me, think I do and voted to make it happen. Thank You, one and all!

This has me thinking about appreciation. It is the absolute greatest feeling to be appreciated for something and it is a touch that happens to so few people. Criticism, on the other hand, we can find everywhere and with just about everything. Even our jokes involve criticism and somebody, somewhere feels “put down”. It is much easier to believe the bad stuff and consequently our self-esteem suffers.

Talking “sensitivity” around our Chapter is a bit of a joke because they all know that I produced a Sensitivity Course that was adopted by our Federal Government. This, they think is funny because I am probably the most insensitive person you’ll ever meet. Archie Bunker comes to mind.

However, the very first sensitivity course I ever took was presented by a young lady (tragically died shortly after) from the City of Mississauga who demonstrated to us how a gesture of appreciation makes everybody feel good. As an exercise of the class at lunch time, we were to compile and deliver a message about the service of the “take-out” food establishment that we had collectively called to supply our order.

It was amazing. The attention we paid to the call taker, the quality of the food preparation, the packaging, and the delivery person was very detailed. After the meal, we went on speaker phone and called the manager of the establishment to express our gratitude to each person and asked him to forward our experience on to his staff. Wow, what a wonderful incident! Our effort took a small amount of time, at no cost to us, and was done on our lunch break and yet, we all felt wonderful. My father often used an expression: “The hand that bestows the flowers retains most of the scent.” He was right.

Conversely, I once had a boss who flatly declared that he didn’t believe in incentives for his staff.  In his opinion, he paid us to work and anything and everything we did was expected. He quite often came out with the appropriate words to thank people or profess “a job well done”, but it always came across as being phoney lip service after that. He demonstrated that he had no respect for the people working for him and looking back, I’m not surprised to see a fast turnover of staff and a large volume of “whiners” and “moaners” among those who stayed. It was like a pocket of pus infiltrating the company!

In my memory, every individual who ever tried to take it upon themselves to improve that organization in some way was “shot down” by this boss. It automatically left you feeling unwanted, left out, inept and unwilling to suggest anything helpful in the future. Very quickly that feeling gets around to other staff, the customers and the general public. It becomes a hard environment to live in. The opinion about the company suffers and eventually the business dies. It’s a horrible feeling to watch a beautiful and winning concept wash down the drain.

Both appreciation and criticism can be given at no cost by the Nick-2015provider but, the end result for all is the difference between what’s extremely good and extremely bad. What do you think is preferable?

I don’t know how my competition felt the other day during this award process but, I’m willing to bet, because of the kind of people they are, that they were pleased for me. I probably had a distinct advantage because I am older than they are and have had more time to devote to the profession.

I know that there still are “the takers” of the world but, I suggest to you that those people do not feel good about themselves. They may get things for nothing to a point but, eventually, it comes back to haunt them in one fashion or another.

Safety is a very interesting and rewarding business. The sharing of “safety” itself is a wonderful feeling.  If one can influence somebody, anybody, into leading a safer life that keeps them from harm then, we all live better lives.

Keep the “shiny side up” folks, whether you are driving or just living life. Always look for the “good” in people. It is there, somewhere. Appreciate it and it comes back tenfold!

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