Thursday, June 19, 2014

Smiths 5 Keys to Safe Driving

A number of people have asked me why park my vehicle by backing into the slot.
When I worked at a previous company, that company spent time and effort on helping employees become better drivers, partially because many of us would operate company vehicles and having safer drivers insures less expensive car fleets.  In doing so they, introduced us to the Smith Driving System and the "5-Keys".  
I believe the system has helped me to become a better driver and have less issues with insurance!
Thus, I want to share this resource with you. While I am not associated with Smith System organization, if you have question, I will be happy to answer as much as I can.  You may want to copy the link for your home viewing if you like  
That document gives an overview of the points, of which backing into a parking slot is key to #1, 2 and 3.  There are more material available online, and so you may find this to be useful for yourself in your own driving habits.  
Here is a summary of those points:
The Smith System states that following these five rules can dramatically reduce the risk of major accidents on highways and roads.
1.   Aim High 
The first rule for this method is “Aim high in steering”. Staying alert of the dangers and traffic ahead not only avoids rear-end collisions, but it also alerts other drivers behind your vehicle to slow down. The driver should steer and focus their attention high, so as to view the road as whole and not just a few feet ahead. 
2.   The Big Picture
Be aware of your surroundings at all times” may seem obvious to say, but distracted drivers are just as dangerous as intoxicated ones. Erratic and angry drivers take up a large portion of the traffic we see daily, so avoid major accidents by noticing how other drivers behave on the road. Having the whole picture means that you are doing your part to keep your vehicle as safe as possible while moving 1000ft a second. There are a variety of hazards between your own vehicle and other drivers, and a keen awareness of these dangers will reduce these risks.
3.   Keep Your Eyes Moving
The third standard of the Smith System asks drivers to remain alert. Energy drinks can only do so much before they cause the body to crash, and any repetitive motion sends us into a trance. Consistent eye movement prevents your body from entering the trance state, keeping you alert to every driving condition ahead of you.
4.   Leave Yourself an Out
The fourth principle of the Smith System states to leave yourself a way out. This means ensure that other drivers do not box you in while selecting their lanes. Do not follow other vehicles too closely, and always anticipate what choices other drivers make.  Iowa driving manual suggests no more than 2 seconds between you and vehicles ahead of you, but Smith System recommends 4. When you pull up to a stop light with cars in front of you, be sure to be able to see their back tires. 
5.   Make Sure They See You 
The worst thing a driver can do is assume. Assume other drivers can see them, assume other drivers are not dangerous, or even assume that they will just get to their destination safely. The final rule for the Smith System is “Make Sure You Are Seen”. This rule prevents accidents by removing assumptions made behind the wheel. As a driver, make sure that other drivers can see you and anticipate your move. If you feel you are coming into another driver’s blind spot, use the horn to get their attention. Avoid getting behind high profile vehicles where you cannot see anything but that vehicle. 

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