Category Archives: Safety with Uncle Nicky

DEATH PENALTY ABOLISHED – 1976 – OR WAS IT?

As many of you know, I drove, dispatched, was Operations Manager, and Safety Manager for an airport shuttle service for a number of years. Something I noticed repeatedly over the years was the difference in collisions when the driver was alone as opposed to when passengers were being carried.

If you are aware of today’s enforcement focus on “distracted driving”, you will find many references to the use of cameras, phones, electronic devices, hands-free devices, consuming food or drink, smoking and talking to passengers. Of course, none of these things are “at-fault”. The driver is “at-fault.” This makes reasonable sense as we know that anything that takes your mind off your driving is a distraction.

According to some unknown authority, driving the QEW and the 401 are some of the busiest highways in North America, supposedly beating out California. Our drivers continually drove back and forth on those two highways, 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. It didn’t take very long for our drivers to learn the regular traffic patterns of those highways. Many discussions took place among drivers as to the best lanes and routes to take at particular times of the day. Drivers often found streams of cars following behind their marked vehicles. People learned to follow them for the safest drive and to make the best time.

If memory serves me correctly, our passenger counts averaged around 1.5 million per year. That’s a lot of driving.

Yes, unfortunately, we had crashes but, we had very few passenger injuries. I contend that the reason for that was that our drivers drove differently when alone than when they had passengers on board. I believe they paid more attention to their driving, taking fewer chances when somebody was watching and they felt that responsibility.

Of course, freight drivers never get a chance to talk to passengers. Also, freight never talks back, it never gets sick on you, it never pees on your seats and it never fights with you or other passengers. As long as you drive right, the freight stays put. Ever think of that?

Taking what I’ve observed, I think distracted driving is a mental Nick-2015attitude that can be overcome. I believe if your mental attitude is tuned into your driving, you will not be distracted, even when something big and loud happens right beside you. You can train yourself to concentrate on what you are doing so that you don’t look away for any reason, including when something strikes you. Only you can take that kind of control. Sudden moves are the killers. If you can keep your vehicle steady and stable, regardless of what’s happening around you, you’re more likely to stay safe.

This is sometimes a hard lesson for winter drivers to understand. Stay off the brakes and avoid sudden, sharp, steering movements. It doesn’t matter if you are swimming, skydiving or driving, panic moves are killers. Never give up!

So, what can you take from this? When you turn that key, turn your brain on. Light it up and focus on what you are actually doing as if somebody is watching you. You still have a great responsibility to yourself, your passengers, other road users, your customers and those waiting for you at home.

Your job (paid or otherwise) is to get the trip done, the passengers off-loaded, and the load delivered safely. When that vehicle is running, you’re on the job! Pay attention to it as if you were facing the death penalty ……. because you are, every time you turn that key.

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

About the Author

Your Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions

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

HOW ARE THE STEAKS AND SHISH KABOBS THIS SUMMER?

Well, the season is well underway and I actually have the BBQ out for the first time in three years. Nope, I cleaned out the tubes and left the lid open so there were no big bangs in my neighbourhood. Let’s talk propane for a minute.

  • The BBQ bottle, lift truck or house trailer outside mounted cylinder.
  • The secured enclosed bottle in the trunk of a car. (Black diamond sticker)
  • The underslung tank, usually on a van/cookhouse, motorhome, etc.
  • The industrial tank often found at farms.
  • Automotive fuel – exterior bottom mounted vehicle tank. (Blue dated windshield sticker)

Propane is the safest of the liquid fuels. To explode, it needs to be enclosed with air and a spark.

Re Google: rv life propane system explode
http://rvdailyreport.com/owner/rv-life-can-a-propane-system-explode-and-kill-you/

I watched the film in the above article from one of my RV sources. Every time I see the media stick the word “explode” in relation to propane, I am outraged.

You read this heading and most of you get all excited with the FEAR of propane. That spreads and catches on really quickly and fear is killing businesses. The world has an unfounded, unnecessary, fear of propane.

Propane is safer than the gasoline your car runs on or you let your kid run your lawnmower/snowblower with. Here is the fallacy. You read the article (and at almost any fire where propane MIGHT be involved) you see the media exploit the word “explode”. Watch this film. I didn’t see any explosion here.

The fire in the film, probably caused by smoking, something hot against fabric inside or electrical. Propane was not involved in this fire. Here’s how I know:

Propane tanks on a motorhome are slung underneath the vehicle. Nick-2015There is no flooring below them, therefore, a propane fire would burn from underneath, not above or inside to begin with. Unless obstructed, it would likely be one long intense flame going in one direction. A propane fire burns exactly like a butane lighter. Propane is heavier than air and therefore, goes to ground. It does not spread on the ground like gasoline. Propane will not burn if the mixture with air is less than 2.2% or more than 9.7 %. It needs to be enclosed to mix and combine with the air, like in a garage or building, to “explode” as it fills up from the bottom. When it reaches the right mixture it needs a spark.

Like the butane lighter, a propane fire comes from a single location and continues burning from that location until it runs out of fuel. The higher the inside pressure, the longer the flame.

Now, let’s say a fire burns material underneath the propane tank heating up the propane inside. Every propane tank has safety plugs built into the bottom of them. They are designed to be weaker than the 3/8″ steel the tank is made of and blow when the pressure builds up too greatly. Of what material and thickness are your gasoline tanks made? Scissors will do!

This releases the propane, again in a giant rush, therefore, unlikely to reach the proper burning percentage. It blows like a white fog and dissipates quickly. By the way, when those safety plugs blow, it will look like an explosion because the propulsion will lift and throw the tank. BBQ bottles/cylinders, because they are lighter, can be thrown as much as 3 miles.

The guy’s comment in the film: “5-minutes and they haven’t got a hose on that yet”. Firefighters will not try to put out a propane fire. Notice where they positioned their first trucks in this film? Nowhere near the front or back of that RV and out of range of a flying tank. For propane fires, they send a fine spray of water on the tank to cool it to make it less likely to rupture and keep the safety plugs from blowing. They generally let all the fuel burn/escape and protect the surrounding areas.

I couldn’t tell you how many years ago it was now, but a propane tanker caught fire near where the toll booths once were on the Burlington Skyway Bridge. It burned for hours but, all the Hamilton Fire Dept. did was continue to spray a fine stream of water on to cool it. It eventually burned out, they replaced the asphalt and re-opened the highway.

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

About the Author

Your Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions

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

ARE YOU AN OSTRICH?

What in the world is Nicky talking about this time? When people say someone has their head buried in the sand, they are claiming that the person is ignoring obvious facts or refusing to accept advice, hoping that simply denying the existence of a problem will make it go away. The ostrich doesn’t really do that ……. just dumb people we see frequently on our highways!

As most of you know, my belief is that the most important safety Nick-2015precaution while driving is keeping an adequate “space cushion” between you and the vehicle ahead. You know, at least three seconds between the back of the vehicle ahead and your front bumper if you’re in a car. Increase that distance for weather, trucks, buses and larger vehicles. That rule does so much more to provide a safety net for you.

When you can see far enough ahead to recognize that traffic is slowing down, it gives you the opportunity to reduce your speed with it and stay back far enough, not to crash, as well as, slowing down enough that the vehicle behind can also gradually decrease speed without hitting you.

So many people follow too close. Day after day we watch motorists, doing 120 kph, follow each other with about 25 feet or 7.62 meters behind the vehicle ahead. If you can see about three or four hundred feet ahead, you may be alright because you have a chance to see brake lights coming on at that distance. If it’s a van style truck in-front-of you, that you can’t see around, you haven’t got a chance.

red van By Bruce Outridge

So, where are their brains? For some reason, most humans figure that they are smarter than the other guy. Those that drive in the far left, or far right lanes, think they have a way out. No problem! If that guy jams on his brakes, I’ll just slide down the space to the left (or right) of traffic and be able to safely stop there. WRONG! Everybody else is thinking exactly the same thing and will be over there, piled up with you.

Furthermore, those vehicles ahead already crashing are going sideways into those vacant spaces that you hoped to use.

Concentrating on looking through the rear windows and front windows of the vehicles ahead is another one. Yep, you can generally see through the windows of the first car ahead but, beyond that, you cannot gauge how much or how fast traffic is slowing when looking through that glass.

I spoke about a “van style” truck. Tractor-trailer, a straight job, or cube van, they are all the same. At three hundred feet (92 m) ahead of you when going 100kph, you can see around them. You can see cross traffic blowing through a stop sign. You can see a child chasing a ball into traffic. You can see obstructions still ahead of them on the shoulder that you know they will have to go around. You can make adjustments for the lit-up emergency vehicles and towing units ahead. Gain speed on that van and it becomes closer. The closer it gets, the less you can see of those hazards. Think about those flatbed tow trucks with the sharp edge just in-front-of your windshield. What a way to lose your (and your passenger’s) head! Swift decapitation. – not nice for anybody.

Do you know the thing about driving three-seconds behind the other guy? You are traveling at exactly the same speed as he is. Those that get frustrated driving behind you will pass, and when they do, they will get just as frustrated with him and pass him too. Did you ever watch the rapid lane changers? As I said, everybody thinks they are the smartest.

If you are currently one of those drivers I talked about earlier, you’re going to find that 3-seconds seems like a long time. Believe me, it’s not. If you try it and then do it consistently, you will find a whole new driving world opens up to you. One of relaxation, comfort, and calmness about your driving. You will be able to see so much more, have time to make choices and have the most information going into any situation.

Yes, they will jump into spots ahead of you but, they generally leave very soon after, either exiting the highway or passing the guy ahead.

I always asked my students to practice this method for 33 days in a row. A dumb number, I know but, long enough for it to become a habit. A habit you’ll likely stick to for the rest of your life. Depending on your ethnic background, there are people you never want to get overly close too. Most North Americans want to stand about a foot and a half or two feet away from others. It’s the same thing here. You’ll never feel safe again following closer than this margin you’ve set for yourself.

One piece of advice: as you will seldom have to “hard brake” with this method, always be prepared for that fast action when it is needed.

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

About the Author

Your Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions

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

HOW DOES YOUR BRAND SIZE UP?

When I was training drivers I tried to make an impression that you, the driver, are the creator of attitudes about your business. Think of any transportation business out there. Generally speaking, there is somebody at the top, a Chief Executive Officer. Then there are Middle Management, accountants, clerical people and sales staff.
Unless they were wearing some sort of uniform would you know which company they represented? By just seeing them, would you be able to form an opinion about their company?

You may think of yourself as a lowly driver but you are probably the most important person in the company. Let me show you.
Let’s imagine you are in the position of hiring one driver for your business. Two applicants show up. They are exactly the same age, size and, gender. They both are very pleasant, very polished looking, and both have twenty years’ experience driving commercially. Matter of fact, the only difference between them is that one has driven a local taxi for twenty years and the other, a Greyhound Bus. Has your comparative impression of the candidates changed any from a moment ago?

Most people do at this point. As drivers go, the name Greyhound has created an impression on most of us and therefore, we are more likely to look at their driver favourably. Absolutely nothing is different but our own pre-formed opinion. So, where did that judgment come from? It was created by watching the majority of Greyhound buses on the highway, in the news and by word of mouth. It’s called “perception”.

Here is the opposite. Without giving you the name, there is a particular trucking company from Phoenix, Arizona that currently has the worst driving reputation in North America. If you are aware of the trucking industry to any degree, you likely know that name and make jokes about their drivers along with the rest of us. That kind of bias may have been created just because people with cameras might have been in the right/wrong place at the right time. I would not want my name associated with that company and because of their reputation, I doubt you would either.

The message that I tried to get across to our drivers was that you are driving a “billboard”. Every move you make as a driver is being watched, observed and, photographed by the general public and because the vehicle is marked with your company’s name, an overall impression is automatically being formed and shared.
Does it matter? It sure does! Who do you think the “general public” is? From the Prime Minister right down to a six or a seven-year-old kid who will probably someday become, or not become, a customer just because of his or her impression.

What you do as a driver can provide a whole industry with a reputation – good or bad. Go ahead, think for yourself. Do you have a picture that comes to mind when you generally think of taxi drivers, car parts delivery services or car rental jockeys at airports? The size or style of the truck may make a difference or the type of business like a specific courier or aggregate service.

Certain things that a professional driver has done in-front-of us stick Nick-2015in our brains whether we are conscious of it or not. Attached to my memory is a particular large US moving company name. On a tied-up four-lane Interstate somewhere in the mid-west USA, you could see traffic for miles ahead at a near stand-still. In the distance, you could see several lit-up traffic control arrow signs directing traffic from the left to the right lane. Whatever the cause, we knew it had been there for some time.

This particular moving company driver had taken it upon himself to become a traffic director positioning himself straddling the lanes, trying to squeeze traffic behind him to the right lane. As he did that, a lady in a four-wheeler in the left lane behind him would attempt to go out around him on the left because there was a half mile of empty space ahead of him. As she did, he would yank the wheel to the left and cut her off. This happened two or three times. She just wasn’t catching on.

Finally, when she did it a fourth time, he popped it into neutral, hit the button, jumped out of the cab and aggressively started trudging back toward her with a tire-thumper in his hand. Every driver there was ready to jump out themselves to pound on him.

When we finally reached the bottleneck, several miles down the road, two tractor-trailer drivers had died in a fiery crash on the median. He probably knew about this a long time before we did through his CB contacts and reacted. I will never forget the name of that internationally known moving company. He created a really bad impression for that hauler in the minds of a lot of people on that highway that day.

You cannot control what is going through people’s minds or how they look at situations but everybody has an opinion. How you are perceived as a driver of a marked vehicle can make all the difference for many years to come.

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

About the Author

Your Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions

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

MY BIG STICK

MY BIG STICK

By Nick Nicholson

When you look at that title, one conjures up the sense of power, authority and we often relate it to some type of enforcement. We’ve all heard the assertion, “Walk softly and carry a big stick”. As a safety practitioner in the transportation industry, I was well known for using “My Big Stick”. Sounds ominous, doesn’t it?

I took an old broom and cut about three feet off the handle, rounded the cut and I carried it as a pointer. That was my big stick. It was much more precise pointing out specific areas on the wall screen with that stick to make my point. I could have used one of those little laser pointers but the stick had a much bigger purpose.

One of the things that happen in a classroom is that people get comfortable. When they do, they can drift off into, at the minimum, a mesmerized state, if not totally asleep. As they sit there, you know that they are taking in roughly ten present of what you are saying and, down the road, will only remember only about ten percent of that.

As an instructor of material designed to keep people alive and safe, there are moments when I wanted to make sure the participants in my class absorbed all the information and didn’t forget. So, I carried a big stick!

There are probably a million things that a driver trainer can say to Nick-2015help keep the trainee safe. When you want to emphasize the most important message the candidate will hear in that class, you want to have something that catches everybody’s attention and ensures that he or she is fully awake. You want them to remember it for the rest of their lives and hope that they remember it when it becomes a hazard to them in real time. Ah! That big stick!

To me, it is generally acceptable for a driver to keep the vehicle between the white lines, drive at a speed enabling you to avoid trouble when it shows up, and be aware of the dangers that other traffic creates. But, there is one major factor that will keep most drivers safer on the road than all others. To me, that one factor is called “space cushion”.

What is “space cushion”? It is the safe following distance you leave between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead. The gap that you allow so that you can stop safely without hitting that vehicle ahead. As you have a responsibility to other drivers as well, it is also the distance you build into it so that not only can you stop without hitting that vehicle but, to provide sufficient warning to the vehicle behind to do the same. Human safety is most important. Prevent injury.
So, the big stick! I would ask the class to sit back and relax and “dream along with me” for a few minutes. “Close your eyes if you like and just listen.”

In a monotone voice, I would begin to tell a story where you are on your day off and have decided to enjoy the nice weather by going for a drive with the person you love the most in this world. I would interject that I didn’t care if it was your spouse, or somebody else’s, same sex or different, your child or perhaps your grandchild. It has to be that person you care the very most about sitting beside you, I continued.

Lulling the audience to sleep, I would express to them: “You’ve been following a tractor-trailer down the road for quite some time and you’ve begun to trust the actions of the driver: smooth slow downs, plenty of pre-signal warning, no sudden moves, stable on the road” – a very comfortable ride.

“All of a sudden, the brake lights come on, the trailer starts to go sideways, smoke comes from the tires and WHACK!” With my big stick coming down hard and flat on a table surface, the noise was deafening. The whole room would jump.

“You see the glass shattering in-front-of you I continued, you feel the steering wheel coming into your belly, you smell the steaming anti-freeze escaping, you hear tires screeching behind you and the vehicle comes to a stop. Shaking your head, you look around to see, still sitting beside you, that person you love so much – their eyes are wide open with a fixed stare but, you know that there is nobody in there. You’re looking at eyes that will never look back at you again. They are gone and you know it.”

At about this point, after asking the class how they feel, that I go into my spiel about the “three-second space cushion count” (for cars). “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, and one thousand and three. If your front bumper passes that same stationary object before the word “three”, you are following too close. Back-off and try your count again until you fit within that space.”

Using my big stick, now as an indicator, I now point to the screen and follow along as a visual depicts the spacing required to emphasize my message. Increase that distance for larger vehicles. From feedback, I know that it has worked.
I only wish everybody had learned and practiced it every day. We’d be a lot safer.

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

About the Author

Your Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions

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 PLEASURE OF INSTRUCTING ADULTS

THE PLEASURE OF INSTRUCTING ADULTS

As a child, I was a very poor student – a “dreamer”. As a teenager, I was a belligerent student and I confess that I would not have wanted to be one of my teachers.

Thinking back, I believe this activity was because I didn’t want to be there. Gazing out the window to exciting weather, watching people driving by (always a desire) and just living life had my interest. It didn’t matter, both snowstorms and warm sunny days were appealing and I wanted to be outside in the elements.

I was not able to see the connection between learning and my future potential ability. Algebra, a topic that comes to mind. I haven’t used algebra much in my career, however, I do understand the abstract principle of substituting a symbol to represent huge, vast, and overwhelming things, bringing them down to a size your brain can simplify. “A”, “b”, and “x” have made life so much easier to comprehend at times.

It wasn’t until I started to work that I began to find learning useful. The secret of learning something and taking it back to work to use was instantly exciting. What I learned was packed into my tool bag, as I practiced, it became experience and lifelong knowledge that I have never forgotten. Even now, if it has not been used for a long time, it comes back. If you were into computers, how about the MS-DOS commands that you once knew well and used every day?
At some point in time, I began to share my knowledge with others. My injury in 1979 was probably my greatest motivator because I began to think about safety after that. My first dealings with the WCB (compensation board) were with my own injury and later, as a Dispatcher, I automatically took over the writing of Form 7” s (initial report) for every injury the company had. Eventually, I fell into the “safety” role, because of that. That’s when I really began to study and I found myself taking as many courses as I could. This was stuff that I could use.

It was an automatic transition, sharing what I had learned and utilizing it to try to prevent people from getting hurt. Helping to prevent damage to vehicles put a smile on the boss’s face, and keeping costs (injury and property damage) down made me feel worthwhile.

That brings me to my instructional career. The delight of my career. Nick-2015Courses that I took enabled me to teach various safety-related subjects. I found that the candidates in my classes actually wanted to be there and therefore made it very easy for me to present and for them to absorb information. The material I was teaching was being used immediately, on the drive home from the class.
These were adults that I was teaching. Like me, they had turned the corner to understand that learning was for their own benefit. They could choose, to some degree, as to what they wanted to learn. They also chose to use it, or not, in their daily living. Those who listened, paid attention, who followed the safety tips provided usually stayed safe and out of trouble. That’s where my knowledge became useful to them which they, in-turn, shared with their families.

Yes, I did a lot of Lesson Planning. Yes, I prepared drawings, gathered and inserted pictures and gobbled up traffic and crash news articles to expose road and safety hazards. Constantly changing as the presentation equipment I used became more sophisticated, the lessons became better and better. They became more and more interesting. I would often hear: “When is the next class?”
Something I found amazing was the amount of new information I accumulated from the students. These folks were all experienced drivers, each had a story to tell. Some were horrendous mishap stories where the individual really learned the hard way, through severe injury to themselves or experiencing extremely scary or destructive circumstances. Each added something to my toolbox. I used it well.

I found that I usually had to extend my planning for class-time by about an hour or more. The reason? Out of a class of around 20 candidates, 15 of them would hang around later to tell me of their own experiences. As long as I was willing to listen, and they had the time, they would ply me with their stories. Often, they would show up in my office at a later time with something they had thought of because of our classroom dialog. Each piece would stimulate my thinking.

Teaching safety to adults was a fascinating and rewarding experience for me. Each of us has experienced some form of safety knowledge with everything we have done all our lives. When you learned to ride a bicycle, you learned safety. When you learned to cook an egg, you learned safety and when you learned to drive, you learned safety, bigtime. The past knowledge that has been growing since childhood is there, in the back of your mind, just ready to be exploited. The more interesting you can make it for others, the better teacher and safety practitioner you become.
Being a safety practitioner may be a career that you might want to consider.

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

About the Author

Your Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions

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

ARE MY IDEAS PRACTICAL?

When I was a child, (60 years ago, at least) I often dreamt of roads having wires implanted into the pavement that a magnet could follow to keep everybody in their own lane. This made so much sense to me because everywhere I looked, I could see multiple wires cluttering the sky for electricity, telephone and in those days, the telegraph. I knew it could be done, obviously affordable – why wasn’t it?

Since those days, I have often thought of solutions to critical problems that keep killing people on our highways. Little by little, I see those things coming into existence and wonder why I never made any money promoting them. You know what I’m talking about. truck by Bruce OutridgeThings like ABS brakes (initially on aircraft), electronic stability programs, lane stabilizers, vehicles that can sense what’s ahead and stop before impact, etc. Instead of governments changing traffic control by manipulating the roadbeds, they’ve left it up to vehicle manufacturers to react with individual and separate solutions.
Before a fellow by the name of Ralph Nader came along and opened his mouth, none of these things were even considered. He really embarrassed governments and manufacturers into action. Still, things happen that can be avoided. People make mistakes. If there is a means whereby technology can overcome human error, then it should be utilized quickly.

 

Take, for instance, the number of high vehicles that continue to hit low bridges. An electronic eye, suspended some distance ahead, slightly lower than the obstruction could divert higher vehicles avoiding the route altogether using traffic controls. Usually, trucks suffer physical damage but, double-decker buses (more of them travelling on North American roads these days) cost lives.
It’s taken many years but finally, the majority of the population are using seat belts. The “but” here, is that seat belts could be designed a whole lot better. Speak to any race car driver or compare their crash fatality statistics.

Speaking of race cars, have you ever heard of “roof crush”? So many, many automobiles are designed with roofs that will not withstand the car’s own weight. We’re not talking convertibles, here. People inside die – why? Are you aware that the little “Fortwo” Smart car has a cage built all around it like a race car for the occupant’s protection? So, why isn’t this mandatory for all vehicles?

From my perspective, vehicle occupant safety is a result of a whole lot of things. If you have a vehicle that has been constructed with safety in mind, run it on roads that were constructed with a safety mentality then, taking a trained operator, who is actually paying attention and thinking about what he or she is doing, you still have enormous risk to overcome.

Human error is still the largest factor in road crashes and it takes a fraction of a second to happen. If you are human then, it could be your life changing error.

Fleet Safety Council’s Safe Driver of the Year for 2017 was Mike Lotakow. He tells me that he was initially trained in Poland where the course to drive tractor-trailer is two years long. Are we Canadians, the have-all country of North America, missing something here?

From an engineering standpoint, I see the Ontario Government going backward. Have you noticed the number of onramps that have been removed from secondary roads in this province in recent years? Pretty well all intersections these days must come to a complete stop before turning right. Yesterday’s ease-on ramps, with yield signs, that kept traffic moving have disappeared.

So, are my ideas practical? Over the years, I have written to various government officials (mostly Ontario) with suggestions as to how to minimize danger on our roads. Sometimes I get a response from (usually) my local politician stating that my message will be forwarded to the Minister responsible and that’s it. Nothing ever happens. The only change that has ever been made through my contribution was the addition of the extra lane leading from the EB 403 to the NB 407. They really screwed that one up. There was a lot of carnage before they took action. That was a big push from the public. Have you considered the stupid, convoluted EB Niagara exit at that same interchange?

Governments ignore the findings of their own Inquests. The government orders Inquests, they conduct them, they insist on recommendations and then, they ignore them. It’s like another trial that the victims have to go through without closure. From what I see, it’s mostly governmental fraudulent deception.

From what I can see, it takes huge movements of citizens to get action from the government, something the size of the Humboldt Bronco’s bus crash or the white Ryder van incident in Toronto, otherwise “safety” is just another word.
Keep your people safe.

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

About the Author

Your Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions

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

TURN YOUR MIND TOWARD PREVENTION

I talk a lot about paying attention to hazards and that everybody should be aware. This is great if you can think of them when you need them, react to them and prevent an injury or other carnage.

Lets consider some things that happen in our daily lives that may seem frivolous at first. What is the most dangerous component of operating any vehicle? You, the operator, of course.  We must be competent, physically able, mentally able, without the effect of alcohol, drugs or any other stimulant. At the moment, I will not drive, not because I can’t, not because I haven’t got a licence but, because some heart doctor who knows a whole lot more than I do said so.  I’m not taking that chance. Can YOU learn anything here?

Now, I realize that all parts and pieces of vehicles need to be operating correctly in order for it to be safe but, have you ever considered what particular part(s) is the most dangerous to use? I would have to say the brakes.

Misused brakes have caused some of the most devastating heartbreaks for thousands of drivers and their families. Many happen because people react by jamming their foot on the brake when they should not be touching them at all.Many of us are capable of getting a vehicle going, winding up the speed, keeping it between the lines, and exceeding every safe driving principle that has ever been discussed.  The trouble arrives when something else comes into play and we need to stop safely.

Your vision is probably most important and then, having enough time to react to what you see. Next comes the slowing or stopping of the vehicle, considering all the facts you have such as things like, tire or other component conditions, weight of the vehicle, road conditions, weather conditions, other traffic and so on.

That’s just one of the many scenarios to living your life safely. Everything we do from getting out of bed to getting back in can have safety hazards that we have to circumvent to avoid damage or injury each day. I’ll avoid talking in-bed injuries!

So where do you begin?  In a previous article I stated: Prevent the kid from tripping over his own shoelace first and, in the worst case scenario circumstances, you may just save a life.”

Think about that for a second. Thousands of kids have run with Transforming into the Future Seminarshoelaces untied and got away with it. For the ones that didn’t, there were probably special circumstances like tripping and falling over a cliff, tripping and falling in front of a car, tripping and falling into a wood chipper. These dreamt up situations can keep getting worse and worse but, they could happen. As we can’t predict what may be coming other than, by tying up the shoelace, we can predict that the kid will not trip over it. One simple solution, if acted upon, may be all that it takes to actually save the life of your own kid. The key word there is “act”, right now.

Look at every simple thing you can find to pick out the hazards. Once you realize it’s a hazard, think about it, think what you could do to avoid or prepare for it in the future and act upon it. That carries right on up the scale to things you have to spend money on to rectify. New tires are expensive but, funerals far outweigh those costs especially, if there are several people in the crash.

If we want to stay safe and alive, then we have to be prepared to exercise the brain a bit to locate the faults that could damage us. Look at the mistakes of others to learn from them.  Look at crashes and injuries.  See if you can decipher what happened so that you can avoid it when faced with the same situation.

Sometimes, that’s the only good that comes out of horrible experiences – If you learn from it. Police reconstructionists usually respond to terrible crashes for legal purposes. To me, that’s a sick way of making lawyers wealthy. If we all could learn what not to do from these reconstructions and correct the faults for everyone before it happens again then, good may come out of it. Their reports are available but, you pay big bucks to get them.

I believe far more attention should be paid by governments to preventing future disasters than assessing blame. That’s the wrong thought process!

The millions that will be spent on the investigation and blame naming in the Humboldt Bus Crash for the benefit of legal profession could be much better spent on building a bridge over that intersection.  There are so many, cheaper things that could be done there and all other intersections that governments won’t even consider. That, to me, it is sinful. Now, there’s a place for the legal profession to shine.

Turn your mind toward prevention, utilize it and share it throughout your whole life.

Keep your people safe.

 The beauty of life is in your hands.

THINK SAFETY ……… EVERYWHERE ……….. ALL THE TIME

About the Author

Your Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions

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

REACTIVE SAFETY IS TOO LATE

REACTIVE SAFETY IS TOO LATE

There’s a reactive side and a pro-active side to safety. In so many, many instances we find ourselves on the reactive side which is the wrong place to be. That means that something has happened and now we have to take whatever action we can to mitigate the damage and destruction. My mind goes to a recent bus crash in Saskatchewan, students murdered in Florida or a rental van racing down a sidewalk in Toronto. Some of our responsive actions don’t really mean much, don’t do much and certainly can’t help much.
You hear our world leaders use clichés to try to ease the pain. “Our thoughts and our prayers are with you.” is a common statement. What else can they do? It’s already happened. That can’t bring anyone back.

If, through investigation, your government or that employer is found at fault for something that could have been prevented, then, watch them squirm. Watch them shift the blame onto anybody or everybody they can to evade criticism.

A very famous safety quote by Captain E. J. Smith (Captain of the Titanic – quoted in the press just before sailing) “it will never happen to me.”

I understand that we have to be fiscally responsible when it comes Nick-2015to spending dollars but, I see so many scenarios where, in trying to save a few bucks, deaths, serious injuries and whole families are destroyed because the decision maker places a higher value on currency than life itself. “Oh, we can’t spend that much!” Twenty-six miners killed at the Westray Coal Mine in Nova Scotia come to mind. Finally, it’s become a crime.

From my personal experience as a safety practitioner, my worst experience was my company ordered me to stay out of a building under construction. The words: “You stay out of there, it’s being built to code.” Regrettably, I did as I was ordered.

On a cool spring night, five years later, I got called out of bed because an employee had collapsed in that building. When I arrived, the man was deceased, still on the floor and although I was not allowed inside, I could see through the window that he was “cherry red” in colour. That provided an instant signal to me that carbon monoxide was involved.

Sure enough, following a long investigation with MOL court case where the company paid out a fortune, it was found that a mechanical vehicle exhaust system was installed in the three service bays but, not the wash bay.

We’ll never know why the employee closed the bay doors – when it was not normal for him. We’ll never know why he left the engine running. We’ll never know why the employee took the time to change a headlight while the vehicle was running inside with the doors closed.

What we do know is that the company spent millions having new automatic exhaust systems installed in all company service buildings, bringing staff in for grief counselling, entire staff retrained with what appeared to be, ridiculous (gone overboard) rules, rescheduling of staff and reporting procedures, the entire fleet’s exhaust emissions recalibrated for each vehicle, and massive fines and legal fees. In addition, publicity was not handled well and a poor reputation was developed by the media, fellow business owners and our own employees.

All the tools were available to prevent that tragedy and a lot more as well (community reputation) but, were purposely ignored, avoided and ridiculed to save a buck. My failure? My regret? I didn’t push back hard enough!
So, what’s the alternative?
The pro-active side of safety relies on a positive safety culture. It is a culture, led from the top, followed and promoted by middle management and carried out by the entire workforce to look for every reasonable precaution to save a life, stop an injury or prevent damage of any kind. Everybody has a part to play. Everybody is responsible for the other guy’s safety, no matter where or how small it is.

Safety culture is an “all inclusive” way of thinking from the newest employee to the person at the very top. It needs to include each and every hazard possibility and be carried forward to protect all. Thinking has to go into it, your thoughts have to be presented and everyone must listen. The discussion needs to include all viewpoints, evaluate the risk and everyone needs to share and train with the results.

Prevent the kid from tripping over his own shoelace first and, in the worst case scenario circumstances, you just may save a life.
Keep your people safe.

 The beauty of life is in your hands.

About the Author

Your Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions

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.

WOMEN ALONE by Nick Nicholson

I often talk out loud to myself. I find that I get the answers that best suit my desires. But seriously, I’m an old man. I really do it so that I can remember what’s going on.

I particularly advise women to talk out loud to themselves, red van By Bruce Outridgeespecially when driving. Women driving alone are at a far greater risk of falling prey to criminals and thugs so make yourself aware of your surroundings constantly. Get in the habit of reading exit, street signs and landmarks out loud to yourself so that you can remember the last sign if you need to describe where you are. Before heading out on any trip, make sure someone knows your intended route and time expectations. Also, let them know when you arrive.

Make sure your cell phone is always charged before heading out alone and that your Bluetooth is working. A dashboard charger is also a good idea. If you think you are being followed, drive at a normal speed and make a couple of unscheduled turns. If you still think you have a tail, get onto 911 and explain who and where you are, your assumed situation and follow their directions. If you can, drive toward a police station or highly populated location like a service center. Never, ever, try to outrun someone in your car. Drive (O.J. Simpson, White Ford Bronco style) at a normal speed.

Some folks have successfully used blow-up dolls on long trips, reclining in the passenger seat with a baseball hat on, they look like a sleeping companion. When you come to a stop, keep your doors locked and keep the vehicle in gear. Be aware that some car doors unlock automatically when the vehicle is placed in “park”. Observe your surroundings very carefully before unlocking the doors.
The same when you approach your vehicle. Look under, around and beside your vehicle. Clench your keys between your knuckles to use as a weapon should you need it. Know what your door lock remote does. Often one click opens just the driver’s door whereas two clicks unlock all doors. Remember that vans or large vehicles parked beside you can provide a hiding place for abductors.

It is always a good idea to carry a survival kit with you. Dry snacks, bottled water, canned heat with a lighter/match or some form of cold protection. Should you break down, phone your road service and do not accept help from anyone until you’re sure they’re legitimate. Crack your window open slightly to speak to anyone. Stay alert and stay in your car. Do not to get involved in your phone to the point of becoming distracted and keep your radio volume down so that you can hear things going on outside.

Lastly, do not assume that an unmarked vehicle with flashing lights is a police car. If you are not sure and a suspicious looking “police vehicle” tries to pull you over, keep on driving until you can pull over in a well-lit area such as a fuel station. Notify 911. Park as close as you can to the entrance of the kiosk or at a fuel pump and blow the horn. This will attract – and annoy – the attendants, but you will be safe. Should the vehicle following you be genuine police, he/she will approach you. With both your hands at the top of the steering wheel so they can be seen, open the window just enough to speak to them and ask to see their police IDs. Don’t just glance, actually study their ID card – not a badge.

If you are traveling alone then you might be staying alone as well. Certain hotel rules apply. Try to pick an upper-grade motel or hotel.
Don’t advertise your room number. Keep your voice down during any discussion that might identify you are alone. Get a room far from the street or facing an inside court if possible. In addition to ensuring that the door lock works, make sure the chain is on. Some people carry a rubber doorstop in their purse to shove under the door’s edge. Remember to kick it out if there is a fire.

Fire is always a concern. Firefighters recommend their families never go above the 3rd floor in any hotel so that ladders will reach. Know where the fire exits are and plan your escape in multiple directions from your room first.

When you arrive, place your bag so that it props open the door. Then check out the entire room; the closets, bathroom, behind curtains and open doors. If you need to run, the exit door is already open.
Sleep with your windows closed and locked unless you are on an upper floor with no balcony. Never open your door unless you know the person behind it. Sleep with a flashlight. One of these tiny pocket lights stuck in your shoe so that it’s the first thing you touch might be good. Always carry a “Fox 40” or similar whistle. When you leave the room, place a note on the dresser to say where you expect to be and pull the drapes so that an empty room is not identifiable from outside.

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

Sources: OPP – London CDT Conference; Suzan Chala, “Driving in Heels”

About the Author

Your Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions

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.

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