Tag Archives: Safety with Uncle Nicky

EYEBALLING YOUR RIDE by Nick Nicholson

There are times during your driving career where you will be required to drive through narrow spaces. They can be unnerving to the novice and sometimes, even the experienced driver. Most common instances usually involve construction barriers and equipment sticking out into the lane on either side ahead of you.

One of the early secrets about driving that you should make yourself aware of is to look high when operating a motor vehicle. It does several things, the biggest being, it gives you the overall picture of where you are heading. It provides a wide view of your surroundings, the ability to see into the distance, to see traffic actions of those coming towards or on either side of you as well as the surface of the road ahead. Without specifically looking, your eyes will even catch some of the movement in the mirrors available to you.

I have no idea how many of you have ever flown in the cockpit of an aircraft as it approaches a runway for a landing. The feeling can be scary. Running through your mind is, how is this great big plane going to fit on this little, narrow strip of asphalt on the ground?

There is a particular roadway where I have experienced the same sensation. Perhaps some of you have crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel in Virginia. http://www.cbbt.com/about-us/facts/ Over 20 miles long, you drive on an elevated highway over the sea. At a couple of spots it goes up great heights to allow tall ships to travel underneath and at two other spots, the road travels down, actually going under the water in tunnels so the ships can pass over the top. It’s that slope going down that gives you that same feeling. How am I going to fit into that tiny black hole in the ocean at the end of the highway below? It’s numbered Highway #13 if you happen to be superstitious.

Amazingly, you make it and come out on the other side. If you are on vacation and in a car, you swing off at the far end to a little parking lot where you get out and have a look back across at where you’ve been. The parking lots are small.

There is a small trick to overcoming that unease. In that situation, logic tells you that you are going to fit. All the traffic that has gone before you on that highway has fit so therefore it is big enough for you too. All the logic in the world won’t help you if you don’t know how big the hole is in relation to the size of what you are driving.

Here is the answer. If you don’t think you will fit, come to a safe stop Nick-2015before you reach the narrow point. If, however, things are dynamic as they often are when you are driving and you need to squeeze into a rapidly closing space, look up. Whether your vehicle actually fits or it doesn’t, you’ll have the best chance of centering the vehicle into the hole by looking up. If you whack the sides, you’ll whack both equally and have the best chance of staying straight while careening through.

By looking up, your brain automatically figures out where the center of the hole is and you’ll aim for it. Keep your eyes up and never look at either edge because you will likely drive into and hit that edge if you do. If the hole is actually big enough, you will probably squeeze through. If not, you may take the outside edges off the sides of your vehicle but the majority should travel through the center of the hole providing you with the best possible chance of survival. Of course, there are no guarantees!

So many things can be in play here. If the hole has been created by other vehicles, they will also likely still be moving and whatever has the most size, force and weight usually come out the winner. Regardless, always keep steering afterward and stay in your vehicle until everything has come to a complete stop!

Where I began here, was talking about construction barriers, the most common narrow restricted area we come across. Chances are that those barriers will be wide enough to fit your vehicle. As you approach, back-off increasing your space-cushion ahead and while traveling through, keep your eyes up and your vehicle will stay centered. Let nothing else distract you.

Some of those narrow single lane construction areas bounded by concrete barriers can go on for miles. Keep concentrating on your driving and keep your eyes up. You’ll likely be just fine.

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.

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

BOOM – Gasoline / Static Spark

In most cases, the majority of family automobiles today still run on gasoline. Gasoline is a highly flammable substance when it vaporizes. I’m sure you have observed from time to time, particularly in hot weather, visible vapours rising from the area where the filler hose fits into the gas tank spout. Gasoline is a relatively safe product as long as it is kept away from heat or a spark.

Fire requires three things. Fuel, air and a source of ignition, either heat or heat via a spark. As it relates to your local gas station, the most common source of spark comes from static electricity.
Those of you old enough to remember will recall chains hanging down touching the ground from the back of fuel trucks. You would hear the jingle and see them spark all the way down the street. The purpose of the chain? To remove the static charge built up in the truck body from movement and the sloshing of the fuel inside the tank. Around airports, you’ll still see static lines connected between tank trucks and aircraft while fuelling. Today, tires are constructed differently than in yesteryear and these, alone, have enough conductivity to remove the static charge.

I have witnessed two fires at gas stations in my lifetime. Once, when Nick-2015I was a child of ten or so, I spent an overnight at a friend’s house which happened to be located on the side of a very steep hill. Fifty or sixty feet below us was another street with multiple businesses. Among those businesses was a gas station. Awakened from a deep sleep by a loud explosion, we jumped out of bed and ran to the window to see the gas station on fire directly below us. Huge flames would shoot into the air as each successive underground tank caught fire. I remember the local volunteer fire department ignoring the gas station in efforts to save the surrounding buildings. I’m not sure …… there might have been an ulterior motive…… the building next door was the town’s only liquor store. Anyway, the booze was saved but, the gas station was a goner!

The other occasion was a little later in life when I was pumping gas for a living. People my age used to do that, you know, check your oil and clean your windshield too. A customer slid in off the street in fresh snow while applying his brakes. With the front wheels locked up and going too fast for conditions, he ploughed into the first gas dispenser and snapped it off its mounting. A fire erupted and the guy scrambled to get out of his car and run. We had that fire out long before the firefighters arrived. So, neither one of those fires within my own experience originated by static. There have, however, been some bad ones.

Gas stations have come a long way over the years. Today, they build in as many safeguards as is practical. For instance, all gas dispensers are manufactured with non-sparking “break-away” fittings coming from the tanks below. An automatic closing device seals off the exit pipe just below the break-away point. This prevents any fire from entering the underground tank.

In both of these cases, relatively small amounts of gasoline are contained inside either the dispenser piping or the hose. A properly maintained, fully charged and correctly used fire extinguisher should snuff out any resulting fire.

The same applies to dispenser hoses. They have “break-away” fittings, designed to snap off at the base of the pump when somebody drives away with the nozzle still stuck in the tank. It happens quite frequently. Nozzles are made of non-sparking metal and most have automatic shut-off devices built right in. You’ll note that, for years, you haven’t seen one of those little metal clips that once kept your nozzle pumping automatically. These devices are built in, or in this case, removed for your safety.

Getting back to the static charge, friction is usually the source and it can give you anguish. If you get out of your vehicle, be sure to close the metal door with your bare hand while standing on the ground. Once at the dispenser, pump the gas completely replacing the hose and gas cap without getting or reaching back into the car. Those moves, in that order, discharge the static from you or your clothing as you step out and keep the spark away from the vapours.
People can get into trouble when they reach back into the car for something, pick up more static and then return to the nozzle positioned in the tank with the fuel door open. You’ll not likely see them but, fumes are present right at that fuel door. Your first touch transfers the spark. BOOM !!!

Referring to that car door, actually grasp the door snugly with your fingers each time as you step onto the ground so you don’t feel the spark. It is highly unlikely that you will ever be involved in a gas station fire however, it’s smart to remain alert and aware of the hazards while at the gasoline pumps. Life has no guarantees.
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.

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

Thinking Safety by Nick Nicholson

If you follow along with my regular posts you’ll find that my recommendations often use the words “think safety”. What does that mean or, more to the point, how is it done?

Our brains work in similar but often, very different ways. A lot of it comes from the experiences we have dealt with in our lifetime. I think back to playing a parlour game with our grandchildren. The instructions were to draw a tank. After several minutes of Grandpa looking very stupid, unable to come up with the solution, I discovered why.

In my mind, a tank is a heavy tracked vehicle with a gun turret out Nick-2015front used by military forces to fire artillery shells. The kids had this nice simple drawing of a boxy thing with rounded corners. “You know Grandpa, like a toilet tank”. That was within their experience but, I wasn’t thinking on their level.

Usually, I’m talking about the driving of wheeled vehicles and I have an expectation that my audience is also made up of experienced drivers. Unfortunately, everybody’s experience is different. In addition, every vehicle is different. Compare driving a tiny Smart Fortwo car to a tractor-trailer unit hauling forty-five tons of steel coils – “suicide”.

So where should your thinking begin and end. It begins, as we learned in a recent article long before you get into the vehicle. It begins in the planning stages of each trip whether it is going to California or to the corner store. A danger exists in both cases and far more people have died going short, local distances. I’m willing to bet that you would do more planning for a trip to California than you would driving to the mailbox if you did any planning at all for the latter. Would you even put on your shoes or your seatbelt? Would you think to grab your driver’s license or tell your spouse where you were going? Yet, this is where the real bad ones happen ….. on your doorstep. The thinking should never end.

I have been extremely lucky, and I suppose luck’s a good part of it, to have been able to keep the shiny side up and run in between the lines while driving during my lifetime. That’s not to say that I haven’t made mistakes but, for the most part, not serious ones. Mistakes should become a learning experience.

While driving a vehicle, any vehicle, you are making constant judgment calls. In one Defensive Driving Course, there is a statement that an airline pilot makes approximately forty-six judgment calls per minute. You, as a driver, make over two hundred while on the highway. You don’t have an auto-pilot. These are made up of eye movements, slight corrections with hands and feet, decisions, reactions and deeds utilizing the body’s senses. This is where your past experiences come into play. It is definitely no place for a cell phone!

Each and every move that you make, or do not make, has a consequence. Your thinking, while driving, must consider how things work, what actions are going to produce specific results and how they are going to fit the dynamics of your particular vehicle. If you are already sliding (locked wheels) and you don’t take your foot off the brake allowing the front wheels to steer, you know you’re heading in the same direction until you hit something. That’s thinking, utilizing past experience.

Preventative thinking is another aspect. What makes sense to you? I once heard of a smart aleck telling a lady to drive her motorhome as fast and as hard as she could coming down the Alaska Highway. Apparently, she did as she was instructed and the rough roads wrecked the motorhome. Literally, shook it apart.

There are certain circumstances where thinking needs to be part of our driving. We ponder intersections, curves, hills, snow, wet leaves, the slope of the road and so on with thought to some planning. The crunch comes when things unexpected happen. As drivers, we must think about and plan for escape routes. You have fractions of a second to decide and the faster you are going, the smaller those fractions become.

I would love to be able to advise you on safety techniques for every situation but we know that would fill a book. You know the thousands of circumstances that can apply each mile that you drive. Road conditions, kids, animals, falling parts and pieces, insecure loads, pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles and the list goes on forever. Your thinking must include all these possibilities and you should be doing the thinking long before you run into the situation. Have multiple plans, learn avoidance techniques and be ready to act in a fraction of a second.
Follow the basic Smith System accepted principles of safe driving; 1 – Aim high; 2 – See the big picture; 3 – Keep your eyes moving; 4 – Leave yourself an out, and 5 – Make sure they see you.

Keep your people safe.

About the Author

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

ARE YOU SATISFIED? by Nick Nicholson

I hope by now, you’ve satisfied yourself that you, your vehicle, and conditions make it reasonable to head out onto the road. YOU, by the way, are the one person you must satisfy before driving. The millions of people out there won’t be concerned about you until you’re the one about to cause THEM a problem. If that happens, watch how quickly they are to judge you.

Not everybody thinks the same way. I won a prize once in a classroom full of safety professionals (all of them teachers of safety subjects). The speaker had asked who was most important when it came to safety in our lives. The answers amazed me: “my wife’, “my husband”, “my children”, “my parents”, “my sister”, “my employees”, and so on. Of roughly sixty professional safety people in the room, I was the only one who gave the shortest answer. “Me!”. The speaker came bounding down the aisle to congratulate me and give me my prize. All those other people may be the most important TO YOU but, when YOU’RE gone, nothing else matters!

Your engine is probably getting pretty warm by now so, if you’re ready, let’s put it into gear. Check around you to ensure all is clear. Very slightly, put your foot on the accelerator and slowly release the clutch (if you have one). The vehicle begins to move and before you’ve gone a hundred feet (30.48 m), step on the brake and bring it to a full stop. What the h…….. ? For the very first time you now know if the vehicle has braking, how much effort you have to use to get it to stop and if everything feels right with your brake pedal. By now, you may also have a clue as to how your steering is working. (Especially useful when you get new brakes installed.)

I’m going to assume that you already have a driver’s license, that Nick-2015your brain is filled with the up-to-date information regarding all highway signs and you know the current legislation in the jurisdictions you will travel through. You have to keep up with this stuff, just like the surgeon fixing your heart or brain. It’s your responsibility!

When all is clear, put you foot back on the accelerator again. Wow! You’re moving again. To operate a vehicle you really need to be able to see. It is the primary message coming to your brain to tell you what to do and where to go. So, where are you looking?

A “general rule of thumb” is to look high. Your eyes are pretty magical things and when you look high, you can capture most of the movement in your field of vision, most of the identifiers that tell you where you are on the road and most of the tell-tale signs of obstacles or clues (road signs /markers /traffic/ intersections/ pedestrians and kids, chasing balls) as to what action you might need take. Naturally, you’ll need to adjust your vision closer when things get intense. A very big thing to remember is that the faster you go, the less you see and the less time you have to react to danger.

For your own safety, you need to see and comprehend more than what is just in-front-of you. Partly, that’s where your mirrors come in. Glance at your mirrors every 5 to 8 seconds. You need to know everything that is going on around you, at all times. Capture where other vehicles are in relation to you with each glance. And, finally, you have to be aware of what’s beside you on both sides, all the time. Movement, reflectors and lights are your greatest helpers. It took a long, long time for the general public to get used to daytime running lights. People would yell at you: “You’re lights are on”!

Do you know when you’ll feel good about the 5 to 8 second mirror rule? When you spot a fully “lit-up” emergency vehicle coming behind you long before other drivers. Without that panicked feeling, you can find a safe place to pull over to get off the road.

A lot of drivers paid big fines when the following piece of legislation first came in without their knowledge. Ontario’s Move Over Law Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eByfC9LAVTc In Canada, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta have other specific “move over” laws and speeds you may have to abide by. (date researched) Research before you travel.

Your body has many parts and you might be amazed as to how many of them have a part to play in safe driving. Again, have you been lucky, so far?

Keep your people safe.

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

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council

PREPARATION – YOUR NEXT STEP by Nick Nicholson

How good a driver are you?

So, (from my last post) you’ve considered some of the preparations we should take before moving our vehicle but, are you finally ready to start actually driving?

So: “Drivers ……. start your engines.” Oops! There are still lots of things to do. Make sure your glass is clean. Get your seat comfortable. Make sure your feet are comfortable on the pedals, your arms are comfortable on the steering wheel, and your seatbelt is connected, snug to your pelvis, the shoulder belt over, and positioned down to the top of your shoulder. Are your sunglasses on board?

Figure out where your head position is when you are driving normally. Adjust all mirrors to have a full view from that position. If you are in a car with a center mounted rear-view mirror, make sure you have a center based picture out the rear window.

Exterior or door flat mirrors need to be adjusted so that, from your normal head position, you can just see the edge of the outside skin of the vehicle on the vehicle side and as far away from it on the “road” side. When checking how high your view needs to be, set the “horizon” about the middle of the view. Personally, I want my vehicle to have convex mirrors on both sides. They may be tiny ones glued to the flat mirror on a car or external items attached by an arm. I have measured it at a stoplight and have found that as many as seven cars can hide in your driver’s side blind spot when you don’t have a convex mirror. I have trained myself to always look into the convex mirrors first to get the whole picture then, move my focus to the flat mirror. You need to be able to get all the information you require at a glance. I digress back to talking preparation again.

Be sure you know your vehicle! Light switches, gear shifter, windshield wipers and washers, turn signals, 4-ways, door locks, and defroster are the major ones where you can find yourself fumbling (especially, in the dark). Look at your vehicle closely. Make a mental note of how far out the front hood is and whether the nose of your vehicle actually stops there (drops straight down) or stretches out further. That’ll give you an idea of your clearance in tight places. The same for the back. Locate the rear of your vehicle in the mirrors.

Via the interior, note the angle of the back window as to what you red van By Bruce Outridgecan not see. Some cars are manufactured with terrible rear views from the inside. (Remember Steve McQueen’s famous Mustang from the movie Bullet?) Going backwards was a real challenge. Think in terms of the height of children, parked bicycles and kids toys left directly in front of or behind you in a driveway. Good time to remind you to always back-in and drive out of driveways. Think of what you don’t see.

Now, before you put it in gear, physically, get rid of your cell phone. Put it out of reach. If you are connected by “Bluetooth”, make sure it is turned on and you’ve heard the report that it is connected. Again, know your controls. Never, ever, touch that cell phone again when your vehicle is running. Get totally off the road with your engine off before grabbing for it.

If you’ve spent a long time doing these things sitting inside your car, you might want to step out and circle your car once more before putting it in gear. A lot of things could have happened while you are sitting there paying attention to these issues. This is something I have noticed in mall (or any) parking lots. People return to their vehicle, start it and then sit there doing their banking, listening to messages, putting on makeup, or whatever and then, putting it in gear, drive off. Chances are, that they have no idea what has changed around them since they got in. The other thing they do is drive right over top of forgotten parking lot curb stones set out in-front-of them.

We still haven’t moved the vehicle. Are you beginning to see why it takes some thinking about your driving when you’re driving? There is a lot to it that we often totally ignore until some single, momentary, incident happens to make us horribly aware, for the rest of our lives!. Again, have you been lucky, so far?

Keep your people safe.

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

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council

YOU’RE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR PREPARATION ALLOWS! by Nick Nicholson

How good a driver are you?

So, (from my last post) you’ve considered some of the hazards your health and the vehicle present for you but, where do you start analyzing your thinking when it comes to actually driving?

Whether you’re going to the grocery store or right across the continent, there are certain things you should consider before moving. On the route you intend to travel, are there any things to consider? How about the weather, construction, road conditions, visibility (including dirty windows and sunglasses), what clothing you are wearing now and what you might need coming back, special events, school zones, traffic, and the list goes on. I’m sure you’re smart enough to think up others.

Pre-planning! You know, you can’t predict what is going to happen while on your trip. If you have to step out of the vehicle in traffic, are you going to be visible to others? A tear-away safety vest shoved down a door compartment can make quite a difference but, only if you have one and use it. Do you have any kind of a safety kit you could use if it becomes necessary?

A few years ago, not so far from me, there was a tanker (tractor-trailer) that was involved in a winter multi-lane highway crash between two small towns. It burst into flames. A number of other vehicles burned with it and unfortunately, there were two deaths. There is one big danger in any crash you need to avoid. Stay inside your vehicle until all traffic has come to a complete stop.

The fire and the deaths were only a part of the problem. I was told by a number of transport drivers at the time that, for whatever reason, the police would not allow people in stopped traffic, access to anything. I did ask and I’ve never found any official who would explain it. Their response was always an embarrassing silence.

Check out the video of the crash

This is how I recall the incident:

Picture this! A four-lane major highway stopped in both directions for several km/miles (to the first exits) on either side of the collision. In each direction, approaching the scene is trapped traffic filling all lanes and, across the median is a totally empty highway. Large vehicles could not turn around. The police arranged for lunch trucks, water supplies, portable toilets, etc. to go to the collision scene to supply the first responders. They WOULD NOT allow those service vehicles to assist any members of the public trapped in their vehicles some, for over 24 hours. Local businesses delivered free pizzas, bottled water, etc, to overpasses and had to lower them down the banks because police would not allow them to go down onto the highway. Trapped people had to walk for miles to get anything at all. Meanwhile, lunch trucks kept passing on the clear side to and from the crash scene. You never know what you might be facing. Make some preparations ahead of time. (water, food, first aid, toilet, seasonal clothing, gloves, jumper cables, tow rope, and so on.)

We still haven’t moved out of the yard. What else should we consider? Again, have you been lucky, so far?

Keep your people safe.

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

Source:
CTV.ca

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

GOOD DRIVER? – ANALYZE YOUR THINKING by Nick Nicholson

How good a driver are you?

So, (from my last post) you’ve considered some of the hazards other drivers present for you but, where do you start analyzing your own thinking when it comes to driving?

The very first thing that is always to be considered is YOU! Without you, whatever vehicle you’re about to drive won’t move. (As they are just beginning to be seen on TV, I’m not going to discuss “driverless’ vehicles. I have no basis on which to base an opinion.)

Before you grab the keys, stop and think what has happened to you in the last few days. Have you had an adequate sleep? Have you had a cold or the flu, any ailment where you have consumed medication to alleviate your symptoms? How long is it since you drank any alcohol? I hope you realize that the average human’s body takes approximately 1 hour for the liver to process 1 ounce of alcohol, one beer or glass of wine. If you’ve got one of those perfect “Barbie-Doll” bodies, it’s going to take longer!

Have you ever considered why police departments don’t station themselves outside the local bars at night to catch impaired drivers? It’s because it is much easier to catch people the next day when they think they’ve had a couple of hours of sleep and are ready to drive again. Numerous religious services have been disrupted when partygoers head out the morning after a festive night. From the officer’s point of view, there are far fewer fights to handle the next day when you no longer have your friends around to impress. And, oh yeah, those that specifically took (“Mom & Dad feel good”) precautions and went home in a taxi or with a designated driver are back on the road again, still impaired. A fine, points and license suspension might be your expectation. Living life in prison after killing a grandfather and three small grandchildren because you chose to drive intoxicated is heavy guilt to live with. (Recent case in our area.)

Okay! Those are some of the obvious. How about your eyesight? Have you found yourself driving with somebody in the vehicle and asking them, “What did that sign say?” That was my first clue that my eyesight was starting to fail. I was stunned by what I had been missing when I put my first pair of (old people) spectacles on. Stunned!!!

There are so many more things that I’d ask you to think about with how you feel physically, emotionally, and mentally on your own but, let’s move on to the vehicle.

Each time you approach a vehicle you intend to drive, do you look at

Nick with Awards
Nick Nicholson-Safety person 2016

the overall scene to see if something is out of place? Are all tires inflated and in good shape, is there anything hanging down, are there any puddles under it, are there any obstacles in your path, up-to-date license plates, are there any children around, and so on? Realistically, you should check under the hood. Just the other day, the lady across the street opened her hood to find a mother squirrel and her brood of babies nested right on top of the engine. It was a nice, warm, protected place for her to have her babies and it only cost the owner $625. to have the mess removed. Your own pet, chewed up by fan blades and belts when you start the engine …….. horrible! Explain that one to your child. You never have any idea what might have taken place in or around your vehicle since you last drove it.

Once inside, there are lights, (heads, parking, brakes, signals, 4-ways, dash, and interior) to check. Steering, gearing, fuel and brakes to check, heater, defroster, A/C and ventilation and of course, the one everybody forgets, your up-to-date driver’s license with you and your registration, insurance, and valid road-side assistance card, should you need it.

We haven’t even turned the key yet. What else should we consider? Again, have you been lucky, so far?

Keep your people safe.

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

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council

HOW GOOD A DRIVER ARE YOU?

You’ve all heard the expression “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”. That sort of says it all when it comes to persuading people to improve their own driving skills, especially when the results are for their own good.

Most of the motorized population give very little thought to their Nick-2015driving because, once you’ve learned how and become comfortable with it, you tend to forget that you are controlling a two, three or sixty-ton piece of machinery down the road with unknown multiple hazards. You feel enclosed and safe and that nothing can hurt you. You’re in your own little bubble and nothing else matters. TO STAY SAFE, YOU HAVE TO THINK ABOUT YOUR DRIVING WHILE YOU’RE DRIVING! Open your mind a bit and consider big animals, wheelchairs, scooters, bicycles, E-bikes/motorcycles, ATV’s, boats, snowmobiles, cars, trucks, tractor-trailers, buses construction equipment and giant, four hundred ton, wheeled, commercial equipment. Each animal or driver has their own agenda which doesn’t consider you or your plan. Then, there’s the nightmare …… the ball rolling out onto the street with a carefree child chasing it. This is one of the hardest lessons any trainer has to convey to drivers.

You drive out there without ever considering some of the hazards. Oh yes, you may think of the odd drunk or distracted driver that might be out there every so often but, is there anything else to be anxious about, is that the only problem you’re going to face?
Consider who’s out there with you for starts:

  • .022% of the world’s population has just received their first driver’s license in the past year; that’s 30,000 new drivers with minimum qualifications and little experience, just in the Province of Ontario alone, every year;
  • Yes, there are daily commuters who use your particular piece of roadway every day that know exactly where they’re going but, among them, are also a great percentage of drivers who have never seen your section of road before;
  • Have you ever taken the time to look at traffic patterns on the first day of school after the summer vacation? It is the nuttiest day on the highways because there are so many people on a time limit, trying to find their way around, listening to directions of non-drivers saying things like turn right here ……. no, turn left, right here. And, keep in mind that these drivers have not been on a highway all summer IF they’ve EVER been out there before;
    There are drivers who have never driven on anything but a two-lane dirt road sharing your 18 lane superhighway at high speed every day;
  • People with diagnosed mental impairments drive your roads ….. people who have NOT been diagnosed also are out there with you. Ever heard of “road rage”? “Road rage” happens to all of us, to some degree, mentally stable or not.
  • We’ve heard a lot about distracted driving (and now walking) in the past few years and we tend to mentally place that in a certain category but, …… anything out there around you can be a distraction for some drivers;
  • Have you ever left a really heated argument, hopped in the car and raced off? Sure you have and so does everybody else, at any time, anywhere.
  • Have you ever exceeded a speed limit? Sure you have and if asked, you’re likely to answer, “everybody does it”.
    Would you ever consider not driving because you’ve been diagnosed with some ailment like diabetes? There are millions of us out there – at various glucose levels, changing constantly hour by hour.
  • Have you ever taken an “over-the-counter” medication with codeine in it? You do realize that you ARE impaired to some degree when you drive. It’s not just alcohol and illegal drugs that impair. All drugs do, to some degree. How often do people heed the label?
  • Now, isn’t it strange that, so far, we’ve only considered the “other” driver? We have given absolutely no thought to ourselves. Are we any good as drivers? Everybody thinks they are but, as I said, most people aren’t thinking about their own driving, just what the other fellow hasn’t thought of. He’s the problem, right? WRONG!!!
  • Have you been lucky, so far?
  • Keep your people safe.

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

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council

DANGER: ELDERLY OFF-ROAD DRIVERS

In my last post, talking pedestrians and cyclists, I made reference to “strange possibilities” and to take evasive action to avoid in any circumstance.

We have a new and growing breed of driver out there that may be considered one of those “strange possibilities”. They are the elderly, off-road mobility scooter drivers and sad to say that I’m one of them.

My first experience dealing with one of these vehicles did not involve me as a driver. I got a call one afternoon about a driver who had been struck by a mobility scooter at a city intersection. Our driver was being charged and wanted me at the scene.

Here is what I discovered when I got there. Indeed, the scooter ran into our vehicle just ahead of the driver’s side rear wheel. The elderly gentleman was quite shaken but, was vocally insistent that the “Walk Sign” was green.

The scenario was as follows: Our driver was traveling in the second Nick-2015from left lane on a multi-lane, one-way street approaching a traffic-light controlled intersection at a two-way street. Seeing a delay ahead, he decided to make a left turn at the corner and go to the next block before resuming that direction on another parallel street. Changing lanes to the far left and seeing nobody at the crosswalk, he executed a left turn at the intersection. Part way through the crosswalk in the far lane, his vehicle was struck on the left side by something. Already going slowly, he stopped immediately. City sidewalks formed that corner from both streets. Traffic lights were green at the time of the incident.

The elderly scooter driver had been traveling on the sidewalk in the same direction and stated that, as the “walk sign” was green, he did not look, slow down, or stop when he reached the intersection. He drove right out, crossed the first lane and ran into the side of our vehicle making the left turn. Legally, he was right but, he very well could have been “dead right”.

One little detail came into play that one might not be expecting. The city, being very beauty conscious, had installed a large concrete block, flower box just prior to the corner between the sidewalk and the street. It was just high enough that it obscured our driver’s vision from ever seeing the seated man on the scooter. Pretty flowers of many colours were growing from the four-foot long, three-foot-high box.

No orange flag projected up indicating a scooter and therefore it was completely obscured from the street. The scooter did not have daytime running lights and the driver was in dark clothing with nothing to make him stick out. He was also driving at full-out, maximum speed of around four and a half miles per hour.

To make a long story short, we picked up the pieces of his scooter and delivered them to the mobility scooter shop. We rented a replacement for the old gent to use and when they told me that his scooter could not be repaired, we ordered a new machine for him.

On the day that the new scooter arrived, our mechanic and I picked up the old gent with the rental unit and delivered them to the retail shop. With a big smile on his face, he hopped on board the new machine and raced to the corner. Without so much as a look in any direction, let alone a stop, he made a ninety-degree turn and shot across the intersection and was out of sight within seconds. Oh, by the way, our mechanic fixed the original scooter and we donated it to a chap who had just lost his leg.

I spend a lot of time on my scooter these days. I run with lights on both, front and back. An orange flag sticks up about seven feet in the air and I wear either a bright yellow reflective jacket or construction shirt with reflective tape. Most of the time, I run at full-out speed and stop or slow down dramatically at street corners. Most of the time I’m on the sidewalks even though they are very bumpy or drive on the left facing traffic where there are none.

Be very aware that there are more senior citizens
out there than anybody else these days and it is
going to get worse. They don’t think about driving
these machines and most have forgotten that their
mother taught them to look both ways before
crossing a street. Many of them are dangerous to
themselves and a hazard to you, the driver.
Old Uncle Nicky – Headlights on, orange flag and bright yellow jacket.Be very careful around them.

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

PEDESTRIANS & CYCLISTS

Recently, Metropolitan Toronto Police were very concerned as they had experienced eight pedestrian and bicycle collisions in one morning. The news media were blaming the autumn darkness and inclement weather. Surprise folks. Autumn and winter come around every year.

City life has its own hazards. High concentrations of people and traffic, all pushing the limits of time and space create a rats nest of activity that increases the danger. Throw a little darkness, rain or snow into the equation and things begin to back-up. Drivers become frustrated that their self-imposed time limits can no longer be met and they begin to race and vie for the other fellow’s space. Pedestrians and cyclists are similar in that their main goal is to stay dry and reach their destination as quickly as possible. Caution is cast off to the wind.

Our “me-first” society has people on auto-pilot each, with their own Nick-2015rationale being the only thing that matters. You’ve seen them. Perhaps, you’re among them. Drivers cutting each other off or tailgating so closely intimidating the driver ahead to get out of their way. Pedestrians and cyclists in dark clothing going in one direction will reach a corner and make a ninety-degree turn, stepping right out into live lanes without even looking to see what is coming or rounding the bend from behind them. That is, of course, if they wait to get to the corner. Many cross in mid-block. There are many strange possibilities out there. Be ready!

Rain, ice or vapour on vehicle mirrors and windows make seeing clearly by drivers more difficult than usual. Many drivers do not adjust their driving to adapt to these conditions. They continue to operate at normal or greater speed because, now, they’re late.

Be seen or be part of the scene! For whatever reason, we humans seem to like dark, conservative clothing. In a country where rush-hour comes in twilight or darkness five or six months a year, you’d think we’d have enough sense to make ourselves visible to traffic. Note the increase of companies requiring their employees to wear bright safety vests, shirts or jackets. That’s because business is paying a heavy financial price when their employees get hurt.

So, what can you do to improve the odds? Make sure your brain is in gear before you make any move. Actually, think about what you are doing when you are doing it. Ignore distractions, especially other crashes. You know that the rest of the drivers around you are watching them so you be sure to watch what the rest of the world is doing. Second crashes are so common. Don’t become a part of them.

Contrary to what the mechanic tells you about not needing to warm up your engine, make sure it is warm enough to keep all your glass clear before you put it in gear.

Quit “pushing” it! You are in control of your own time limits. Being late will not put you in a casket. Put that in your mind when you feel tempted to accelerate.

At some point, even drivers become pedestrians so wear bright clothing. Leave your dark apparel for bright, snowy days only. Make a point to increase the amount of time you need to complete your trip or function. Give yourself more time and provide a nice, relaxed interlude to have a coffee at the destination end. You’ll survive quite well without it if things become delayed.

Whether walking, riding or driving, slow down, especially during inclement weather. Once you’re wet, you’re wet and you will have to dry out anyway. You will dry, by the way! Being upright, walking/riding and wet is far better than lying on the ground injured, bleeding, cold and wet. That extra fraction of a second can save your, or somebody else’s, life. Take the time to look carefully at each situation.

Keep your people safe!
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