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Driving Safety

The Driving Safety is a reference you can use to help you avoid the devastating consequences that can result from a motor vehicle accident.

If a driver knew the vehicle in front of him was going to be cut off and slam on its brakes, do you think he would be in a rush and follow the car so closely?

You’re probably watching this program because you drive as part of your normal work activities. You may not think of it in these terms, but you drive for a living. That makes you a “professional driver.” As a professional, you’re expected to be good at what you do. And the bottom line when it comes to driving is driving accident-free.

Driving Safety is divided into four parts:

  • Understanding Motor Vehicle Accidents describes the factor typically involved in motor vehicle accidents and explains the difference between being “not at fault” in an accident and being “accident-free.”
  • Defensive Driving describes the terms “defensive driving” and “space management,” and illustrates some specific techniques that you should follow to prevent motor vehicle accidents.
  • Condition of the Driver describes how the mental and physical state of the driver can contribute to motor vehicle accidents.
  • Vehicle Condition and Safety Features describes the importance of the vehicle’s condition in preventing motor vehicle accidents and three safety features in most vehicles today.

Understanding Motor Vehicle Accidents

TYPICAL FACTORS IN MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS

They’re called accidents because they are unplanned unexpected. Each year, over 40,000 people lose their lives in motor vehicle accidents -that’s 1 every 13 minutes. But don’t think for a second that these accidents, or any others, have to happen.

Let’s take a close look at a tragic accident. Because he is late for his appointment, he’s going about 10 mph over the posted speed limit and following the vehicle in front too closely.

Few drivers will take risky actions like these if they know they will result in an accident. More likely, our driver has driven too fast and tailgated many times before without having any problems. And he was probably going to be all right this time too, as long as nothing unexpected happened.

But something unexpected did happen, and because he was speeding and tailgating, a serious collision resulted.

That’s the way it usually happens. We go a long period of time committing at-risk behavior without anything going wrong. Then one day the unexpected occurs and, because of our at-risk behavior, we can’t react fast enough.

Accident-free drivers understand this. That’s why they live by the simple rule: “Expect the unexpected.”

Accident-free drivers live by the simple rule: “Expect the unexpected.”

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “NOT AT FAULT” AND “ACCIDENT-FREE”

Let’s be totally honest. Good drivers rarely have motor vehicle accidents. Now, before you tell me that your last accident wasn’t your fault, just stop. We’re not talking about fault. We’re talking about not having accidents. There is a big difference.

If someone backs out of a driveway into your path and a collision results, most likely we would say the other guy was at fault. But let’s face it, there was a lot you could have done to prevent an accident like this from happening.

If you couldn’t see around the parked vehicles, you should have slowed down and been ready to apply your brakes. Even if you did see the other car backing out, you should have slowed down and covered your brakes until you were certain the other guy was going to stop.

What if it had been a child, and not a car that suddenly appeared from behind the parked vehicles?

The bottom-line when it comes to driving is driving accident-free.

Defensive Driving

DEFENSIVE DRIVING DEFINED

Defensive driving means driving to avoid an accident in spite of

  • adverse road conditions,
  • traffic conditions,
  • weather conditions,
  • vehicle conditions,
  • light or glare conditions, or
  • the incorrect actions of other drivers.

Out on the road, each driver travels in his or her private world. Many are in a rush, under stress or just not paying attention. There are some drivers who are under the infl uence of alcohol or drugs.

As a defensive driver you have to handle any and all situations so you l arrive safely at your destination. Let’s look at some Simple defensive driving techniques.

DELAYED START

When stopped at a red light and the light turns green, use a technique called “delayed start.” Simply count to three before you take your foot off the brake. This helps protect you from drivers who may be racing to beat the light.

Then look left … right … and left again.

Likewise at stop signs, make sure you look left, right and then left again before proceeding. If you can’t see around objects that block your vision like bushes, creep into the intersection slowly before proceeding.

Even if the intersection has four-way stop signs, don’t assume the other driver is going to stop.

Many people who were “in the right” have been killed by another driver who ran a stop sign.

CHANGING LANES ON A HIGHWAY

When changing lanes on a highway, make sure you put on your directional signal, check your rear and side view mirrors, and quickly glance over your shoulder to assure the lane is clear. You need to glance over your shoulder because in almost all cases there is a blind spot on the two rear sides of your vehicle.

Blind spots are the areas that you cannot see in your mirrors or with your peripheral vision. Become familiar with any blind spots associated with your vehicle. They will vary based on the type and size of vehicle you are operating and the type and adjustment of your mirrors.

When there is a standard rear view mirror in the top center of the windshield, the side mirrors may be adjusted outward slightly, thereby reducing the size of the blind spots.

However, this may not eliminate blind spots completely, so you’ll still need to glance over your shoulder to assure the lane is clear. Don’t assume there’s not a vehicle in a blind spot.

Always expect the unexpected.

SPACE MANAGEMENT DEFINED

Space management means always keeping an appropriate amount of space around your vehicle -to the front, to the sides and to the rear. It means staying out of areas where you can be in an accident as a result of someone else’s sudden move or mistake.

MANAGING SPACE IN FRONT

You manage the space in front of your vehicle by regularly scanning the area you will be entering in the next 10 to 12 seconds. This will give you enough time to change lanes, speed up, slow down or stop -whatever is required to keep a safe space around your vehicle.

Use the “3-second rule” for following distance. This means that when the vehicle in front passes a fi xed object such as a pole, a tree or an overpass, you should be able to count to three seconds before your vehicle reaches the object. If you reach the object prior to three seconds you are following too closely.

And when there are adverse road or weather conditions, increase your following distance even more.

Of course, you should never ride in a blind spot of another vehicle. You never know when the other driver is going to make an unexpected move.

And it’s important to understand that blind spots on trucks are more extensive than those on passenger vehicles. There are large areas to the rear, sides and front that are not visible to the truck driver’s line of vision.

MANAGING SPACE TO THE SIDE AND REAR

Space management also requires that you continually check your rear and side view mirrors to assure you have adequate space to the rear of your vehicle.

When you find yourself riding with a vehicle next to you, or someone has moved into your blind spot, slow down and let them pass.

Finally, whenever you encounter a particularly aggressive driver, get as much space between you and him as possible. Slow down, speed up, move left or right -do whatever it takes. You may, after all else fails, have to pull off the road.

SPACE MANAGEMENT WHEN NOT MOVING

Space management also applies when your vehicle is not moving. One technique you should use is the “tire concept.”

This means that when stopped, you should be able to see the bottom of the tires of the vehicle in front of you. This will provide a cushion of space in front of your vehicle if you are struck from behind.

If the vehicle ahead should roll back, there’s less chance of being struck. And if the vehicle in front stalls, you’re not trapped; you can pull out and move around it.

When stopping at an intersection, always comply with the pavement markings.

When in the lane closest to the center use a “staggered stop.” Stop at least 5 or 6 feet back to protect yourself against large vehicles or others that may make short left turns.

It is also important to keep your wheels pointed straight ahead while waiting to, I make a turn at an intersection. If your vehicle is hit from behind, turned wheels can send you directly into oncoming traffic.

Condition Of The Driver

We are now going to examine something a little more personal your mental and physical condition as a driver.

When you are behind the wheel, you’ve got to relax and be able concentrate on what you are doing. This is no time to be frustrated, rushed, distracted or drowsy. If you are in any of these states of mind, mistakes will result -mistakes that can be deadly.

FRUSTRATION AND ANGER

Traffi c congestion, as well as discourteous, aggressive or inattentive drivers can all contribute to our frustration, stress or anger behind the wheel.

A professional driver maintains a calm and patient attitude no matter what is going on around him or her. Never react to the incorrect actions of others by driving aggressively yourself or displaying anger. You don’t know the mental state of the other driver. He or she might even be unstable or violent.

Never react to the incorrect actions of others by driving aggressively yourself or displaying anger.

Sometimes the source of our driving stress isn’t the drivers around us. Sometimes we create it ourselves. Frequently, it’s lack of time. When you’re behind schedule, you may speed, tailgate, move through an intersection on a yellow light or have a general lack of patience with other drivers. Anyone of these can have disastrous consequences.

If you are running late, pull off the road and call ahead to let the other party know you may be arriving late. It’s amazing how this simple act relieves some of the pressure to get there on time.

It’s also helpful to properly manage your time to begin with. Prepare and organize your business to arrive at your destination early. This allows you to relax and concentrate solely on your driving yet still be on time if you have an unexpected delay.

DISTRACTED

Be careful to minimize distractions. Distractions that cause a driver to take his eyes off the road for even a second or two can be dangerous. During that seemingly brief period, your vehicle travels nearly 100 feet at highway speeds.

The cellular phone has become an integral part of many people’s lives. But use of a cell phone while driving can be a distraction. Even though you may manage to stay in your lane, your awareness of what is going on around you can be decreased and you may not recognize a hazardous situation developing to react quickly when the unexpected occurs. It is always a good idea to ~ pull off the roadway and make your cell calls when safely parked.

This also applies for using any of the new types of wireless communications technology becoming available. Obviously, reading e-mail, faxes and even stock quotes should not be done while driving.

Additionally, when one hand is holding a phone, you are not in a position il

Eating or drinking while driving also occupies at least one of your hands. This means you won’t be able to quickly steer out of danger should the need arise. And when there is a spill, it is human nature to become distracted, causing you to take ~ your eyes off the road.

Other distractions to avoid include searching for an address, reading a map, “rubbernecking” an accident scene or staring in the mirror too long.

You’ve got to remember that in the split second you are not paying attention, a situation can develop that can lead to an accident.

DROWSY

Driving while drowsy is another serious problem that leads to thousands of motor vehicle accidents each year.

Drowsiness reduces your reaction time and awareness, and impairs judgment just like drugs or alcohol do. Ultimately, you can fall asleep at the wheel without even knowing it.

As soon as you become sleepy, the best thing to do is stop driving and let a passenger drive or take a short, 15-20 minute nap in a safe area.

The caffeine in a cup or two of coffee can also help,

Remember that certain medications, such as some anti-histamines, or consumption of even small amounts of alcohol, add to drowsiness. Do not use them before driving.

Each year, at least 1,500 people die and 40,000 people are injured in 100,000 crashes caused by sleepy, fatigued or drowsy drivers.

ALCOHOL

All employees must conform to company regulations regarding the use of alcohol.

Alcohol impairs your visual and hearing capabilities, concentration and reaction time. Nationwide, about 40% of all fatal collisions involve the use of alcohol.

Only time can eliminate alcohol from the blood -not exercise, cold showers or coffee. Whether on the job or off, if you drink DON’T DRIVE. If you drive, DON’T DRINK!

If you drink, DON’T DRIVE. If you drive, DON’T DRINK!

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Vehicle Condition And Safety Features

CONDITION OF THE VEHICLE

A safe, well-maintained vehicle is essential: Be sure to follow the recommended maintenance schedule including:

  • oil and filter changes
  • radiator checks
  • tune-ups
  • brakes
  • tire maintenance

Each day, before heading out, perform a check of your vehicle. It only takes a minute and it’s a minute that could save your life. Tires, lights, horn, wipers and brakes all should be checked.

Many times when driving for business you’ll be transporting materials. This can include everything from purses and briefcases to demo units, samples and tools.

All items in your vehicle must be properly secured for two reasons:

  1. In the event of a collision, they can become fl ying projectiles.
  2. An article sliding off of the seat could become a distraction and lead to loss of vehicle control.

Cargo nets and heavy duty bungee cords should be used to secure loose equipment, particularly in station wagons, vans and SUVs. When transporting a lot of material, make sure you don’t block the rear view mirror.

SAFETY BELTS

Now despite our best intentions, accidents can still happen. Over the hundreds of thousands of miles you drive in a lifetime, the odds are that sooner or later you will be involved in a motor vehicle collision. Since we can’t predict when this is going to happen, you have got to be prepared each time you get into a motor vehicle.

I know you probably have heard about the advantages of safety belts for years, but, believe it or not, some people still don’t always use them. These people rationalize by saying “Safety belts restrict my movement,” or “I would rather be thrown clear in a crash.”

Well, that is just foolishness. It is a fact that safety belts save lives. It is estimated they save about 1 0,000 lives a year and would save close to 10,000 more if everyone wore them. They can also reduce the severity of an injury, or even allow you to walk away from a crash in which you would have been injured.

The lap belt should be worn under the abdomen and low across the hips. The shoulder portion should come over the collarbone, away from the neck. Safety belts in many new vehicles can be adjusted on the side pillar to improve fit.

We can’t predict when an accident is going to happen. So don’t be foolish, wear your safety belt every time you are in a vehicle. And remember, it is the driver’s responsibility to assure that all of his passengers are wearing their safety belts also.

Seat belts save about 10,000 lives each year.

AIR BAGS

Air bags are another safety device found in most vehicles. They are designed to limit head and chest injuries in frontal impact crashes.

To do its important job, an air bag deploys at up to 200 miles per hour, less than 1/25th of a second and faster than the blink of an eye. The force of an air bag can hurt, and even kill, those who are too close to il.

Since the risk zone for air bags is the first 2-3 inches of infl ation, sit at least 10 inches away from it, while wearing your lap and shoulder bell. This provides you with a clear margin of safety.

If you now sit less than 10 inches away from your air bag, move your seat to the rear as far as you can while still comfortably reaching the pedals. If necessary, slightly recline the back of your seat, and if your steering wheel is tiltable, tilt it downward. This points the air bag at your chest instead of your head and neck.

But remember that air bags only supplement safety belts, they do not replace them. It is estimated that the combination of an air bag and a lap and shoulder belt reduces the risk of serious head injury by 75 percent. You must always wear your safety belt, regardless of whether your vehicle is equipped with an air bag or not.

Air bags only supplement safety belts, they do not replace them.

ANTILOCK BREAKING SYSTEMS (ABS)

Yet another safety device on many vehicles is an antilock braking system or ASS. ASS is designed to prevent collisions by allowing the driver to maintain direction, and in some cases steering control, when making sudden stops, particularly on wet or slippery surfaces. It’s important to understand though that an ASS does not necessarily make the vehicle stop more quickly.

You should read the owners manual to know if your vehicle has ASS on the rear wheels, which helps keep your vehicle in a straight line, or on all four wheels, which also helps you maintain steering control.

More importantly, you need to know what to do in the event an ASS activates. Prior to the development of ASS, many of us were taught to pump our brakes to prevent wheel lock up and skidding. But with ABS, the system does the pumping for you. When it activates you will probably experience a rapid pulsation of the brake pedal. You may also hear a noise that sounds like a clicking or grinding.

When these occur, the tendency of many drivers is to take their foot off the brakes, or maybe pump them. This is the wrong thing to do. The pulsation simply means the antilock brake system is doing its job.

One way to familiarize yourself with the operation of an ABS is to test it in an unobstructed parking lot when conditions are wet or slippery. Accelerate to a speed slightly above that at which the ASS activates, usually about 10 mph. Apply the brakes firmly. Pulsation may be felt in the brake pedal and you may hear a clicking sound. Avoid pumping the brake, but continue to apply firm, constant pressure. The ABS should prevent the vehicle from skidding.

Well that’s it. Almost everyday we get behind the wheel. It is so commonplace, we rarely think our day will end with an accident.

Yet, we have all seen tailgating, speeding, reckless driving, sudden lane changes, and missed stop signs and red lights. It happens all the time. So what is the key to driving accident-free? It is to …

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

… whenever you are behind the wheel.

So …

  • Know and practice defensive driving techniques
  • Manage the space around your vehicle
  • Always be in proper mental and physical condition as a driver
  • Maintain the proper condition of your vehicle
  • Make sure you know how to use your safety belt, air bag and antilock braking system properly. That’s the way to live to drive another day.

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