Monday, 22 December 2014 00:00

bluetooth_portable_rotary_phone_-_redWhen I was young, we had a rotary telephone on the kitchen counter (for those of you under 40, you may have seen one of these babies in a museum!).  When someone wanted to get in touch, they called and the phone rang.  If no one was home, the caller eventually gave up because there was nothing called an answering machine then.  Those came later with those tiny little cassette tapes.  If no one was home to answer the phone, you were disappointed, but simply called back.  In the intervening years (you can guess how many) we have seen the aforementioned answering machine which morphed into voice mail, fax machines that sent documents over the phone line, email and cell phones and text messaging.  Smart phones with games and web browsers, text messaging and email access are the norm now for most of us and we are addicted.

We are addicted to being connected and as with most other addictions, its killing us.


Few people would argue that they can text and drive safely, and most now accept that handheld cell phones are equally dangerous while many will continue to argue that hands-free calling is safe because it does not involve manipulating the phone while driving.  All the research is contrary to this as the distraction is not principally as a result of using your hands; it's the cognitive distraction that results from processing the conversation while simultaneously attempting to attend to the driving task.

GPS, mobile music players, radios, and any other activity that pulls your attention from driving is a distraction as are the ongoing challenges of children and pets as well as other passengers.

Auto makers are now including technology that will allow drivers to interface with the web, text messaging and email as well into new vehicles which causes me great concern.  While they assure us that they will recommend that this technology is used in a responsible way while not driving, the seductive lure of instant information is, I fear, too great for many to resist.


How many of you have heard the tone of a text, email, voicemail or the ringer of your phone while driving and responded with "just a quick peek"?  I'm guilty, and I feel guilty because I'm supposed to be a safety professional.  I know the risks, laws and penalties and I have had that 'quick peek'.

So I guess I'm addicted too.  I recognized my addiction slowly as I came out of denial and at first tried (as many others addicted to alcohol or drugs will) to control my compulsion to use my device constantly, even while driving and I was somewhat successful but the temptation was great; particularly if I was expecting a call or waiting for a text or email.  I tried to be a good boy and pull over to answer my phone and only check text messages at traffic lights.  This created a whole new set of distraction issues as I looked for a quick, easy, safe spot to pull over where often there was none and recognized early that taking my eyes off an intersection while waiting for the green was just as dangerous (and illegal) as texting while moving.


Cold turkey was the only real solution.  Now I turn off the phone or switch it too silent when I get in the vehicle.  Problem solved.  I can check when I have reached my destination or plan a stop to deal with business along the way.

Recently, I had the good fortune to travel in Europe where my mobile phone didn't work, and even spent a week on a boat where there was no internet connection either.  The world didn't end, my business continued to operate under the guidance of my staff, and I detoxed from the addiction.  I recognized that I can indeed turn back the clock to when someone called and I didn't answer; they would just have to wait, as would I until I was able to connect safely.  It was kinda nice, totally out of contact.  Weird, but nice.

Okay with jacket cropped white bg

Written by: Spencer McDonald, President, Thinking Driver

Reprinted as previously published in Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine.

Published in NEWS
Monday, 06 April 2015 00:00

fleet-safety1Good training is a key element, but only part of the puzzle for vehicle safety!

Employers with vehicle fleet or employees who drive are aware (or should be) that the greatest probability of an injury incident is going to be vehicle or driving related.  Many organizations have, therefore, incorporated driver training into their OHS program.  This is as it should be.

Unfortunately, in many cases, this is where vehicle safety stops.

Training is too often expected to become 'the answer' to vehicle reduction.  A driver involved in an incident, for example, is automatically sent back to re-attend the training program where he/she would almost always pass with flying colours, seemingly without effort.  Lack of skill is clearly not the problem here.

In this situation, is retaining really the answer or are there other forces at play?  Could this be a motivational problem, an attitudinal issue, maybe a medical condition?  Was the vehicle appropriate for the work and equipped correctly?  Training alone can't address all these issues.

A driver training program labouring under the expectation that it should solve all of an organization's driver safety or incident problems is destined to fall short.

Training is undertaken for a variety of reasons:

  • to train and qualify new operators,
  • to provide refresher or upgrade training/education,
  • to reinforce previously learned skills,
  • to re-qualify experienced operators.

But there are many more elements to an effective vehicle safety program.

How does yours stack up?  Compare the features of your vehicle/driver safety program with this list of critical key elements:

1. Senior Management Commitment

Is driver safety seen and acted on by senior management as a critical safety issue?  Frequently we see lip service paid to driver safety, with strong statements of corporate commitment but an absence of meaningful action.  In many cases, senior executives are visibly absent in the training courses associated with the program and have a belief that they are somehow exempt from vehicle safety policies, like pre-trip inspection and circle checks.

Enlightened organizations implement driver safety programs by starting with attendance and qualification on course from executives very early in the process.  These managers lead by example, by committing to the program and adhering to policy (like cell phone prohibition, backing in to park, circle checks).  Workers need to both hear about safety from management and also see management participating and in compliance.

2. Written Policies and Procedures

Vehicle safety policy and practise should be identified and detailed in its own section in your health and safety manual.


The policy should state the company's expectation of employees who drive, as well as specific policy related to job tasks involving vehicle use or movement - on or off-road.  In addition, the policy should state qualifications for use of various vehicle types or classes and the training testing required to achieve these qualifications.

Consequences for non-compliance (if different from the corporate disciplinary system) should be stated clearly.

3. Driver Abstract / Record Checks

Check the driver records of all prospective employees who will be driving for work purposes. Screen out applicants who have poor driving records since they are most likely to cause problems in the future. The driving record should be reviewed annually to ensure that the employee maintains a good driving record, and action should be taken if the record deteriorates.

Clearly define the number of violations an employee/driver can have before losing the privilege of driving for work, and provide training where needed.

4. Incident Reporting and Investigation


All vehicle incidents should be reported and investigated.  Acquire the services of an experienced trainer or vehicle operation expert if one is not available in-house.

Root causes should be identified and action items (if applicable) developed to help prevent future incidents.

5. Vehicle Selection, Maintenance and Inspection

Selecting, properly maintaining and routinely inspecting company vehicles is an important part of preventing crashes related losses.  Ensure the vehicle selected for a particular application is suited and properly equipped to permit safe use in that application and environment.

A pre-trip/shift inspection routine should be incorporated into the vehicle safety policy, and vehicles should be inspected daily by the driver.


Regular maintenance should be done at specific mileage intervals consistent with the manufacturer's recommendations.  A mechanic should do a thorough inspection of each vehicle at least annually.


6. Disciplinary System

Develop a strategy to determine the course of action after the occurrence of a moving violation, policy breach, complaint and/or preventable incident.

There are a variety of corrective action programs available; the majority of these are based on a system that assigns points for infraction and/or incidents.  The system should provide for progressive discipline if an employee begins to develop a pattern of repeated problems.

7. Reward / Incentive Program


Safe driving behaviours contribute directly to the bottom-line and should be recognized as such.  Positive results are realized when driving performance is incorporated into the overall evaluation of job performance.

Reward and incentive programs typically involve recognition, monetary rewards, special privileges or the use of other incentives.

8. Driver Training / Communications


The training program should be an integral part of the OHS program and be ongoing.

Conduct initial training and qualification for new hires; even those with clean driving records may have never experienced professional training and only passed a basic government driving exam (perhaps many years ago).  To set a baseline for driver performance and to document competence in case of future problems, employees should be trained, evaluated and qualified on the vehicle type(s) they will be assigned to, in the environment they will be operating in.

Regular refresher/requalification should be an integral part of the program.

The best programs incorporate a driver safety related course, seminar or event annually to keep vehicle safety at the forefront of employees' minds and demonstrate the corporate commitment to safety.

Every two to three years, requalification by on-road evaluation should be conducted.

Keeping vehicle incident rated low goes beyond just providing training, it includes a comprehensive system of the key elements discussed in this article.

How does your organization measure up?

Written by: Spencer McDonald, President, Thinking Driver

Published in NEWS
Friday, 01 February 2013 00:00

At 90, school transportation veteran still on the job. Click here to read full story!


Published in NEWS
Thursday, 05 September 2013 00:00

bigstock-back-to-school-suppli_427858[1]At the end of every summer, the days grow shorter and the sun loses some of its warmth but for many parents, it’s the best time of year, as the kids head back to school!

In every town, village, city and neighbourhood, the schools reopen and drivers need to adjust their speed and awareness to make sure all the kids get safely to and from school.

Print and read over this entire agenda (or download a PDF version here).

Questions For This Meeting:

What are some of the things that drivers need to be aware of and adjust for as school goes back into session?

Answers could be:

DSC00002 (3)

  • Adjusting speed for school zones.
  • Young children walking on their own without supervision.
  • Children on bicycles who may or may not know traffic laws and habits.
  • Impatient parents dropping kids off in front of the school and stopping where they block traffic.
  • School buses stopping to pick up or drop off students.
  • Heavier traffic generally as vacation ends and most folks get to their jobs.
  • In some areas, the weather is already getting colder and wetter.
  • Any other ideas?

All of this activity can challenge even the best driver and it’s easy to allow a lapse in attentiveness if you are in a hurry or thinking about something else.

Let’s talk about some of these challenges:

Q: What are the rules for School Zones in your area?

  • Markings?
  • Hours in effect?
  • Speed restrictions?

Q: What are the rules and what is the correct procedure around school buses?

2b4_4 (3)

In every jurisdiction, that we are aware of, a school bus displaying flashing red lights requires you to stop regardless of which side of the road you are on.  The school bus red lights are intended to stop ALL TRAFFIC to permit children to safely cross the street in front of the bus.  Be patient and NEVER pass a school bus with red lights flashing.

Tailgate Tips:

Younger Children Walking


The little ones (unlike some teenagers) can be very excited to get back to school and allow this excitement to overcome whatever road safety education that they may have had.  They may be easily distracted and run out to greet a friend on the other side of the road or simply wander across without checking traffic or using a guarded crosswalk.

Your eyes are your best defense!  Stay alert and keep moving your eyes and tracking those kids!  Cover your brake and watch for telltale signs that they may suddenly dart out.  The lower your speed, the shorter your stopping distance, so keep the speed down!

kids-on-bicycles (3)

Children on Bicycles

For many kids, riding their bike to school is a new thrill and they may only have the basic control skills.  Keep a sharp eye out for riders and when passing them, leave lots of room.  One small wobble or bump can send them right into your path.  The best plan is to wait until you can move way over into the other lane and not pass closely or squeeze them towards the curb or ditch.  New riders are focussed on controlling the bike and are easily startled by closely passing cars.  This can cause them to jerk the handlebars and lose control!

Pick Ups & Drop Offs

DSC00001 (3)

If your route takes you past a school, try to avoid times when school is either going in or letting out students.  Parents who pick up or drop off kids may stop in inappropriate spots and tie up traffic.  Avoid the frustration and traffic jams by picking times carefully.  If you are picking up or dropping off your own kids, park a block away and walk.  The exercise will do everyone good and you can avoid the melee at the front of the school.

Heavier Traffic in Early September, as school goes back in.

Plan in advance for heavy traffic by leaving earlier and expecting to take longer to get to your destination.  It’s much more relaxing and safer to not feel the need to hurry and yet still know that you will arrive on time or even early.  Trying to hurry through heavy traffic is counterproductive and will just stress you out without really saving any time.

Changing Weather Conditions

aquaplaning (3)

As the fall starts and weather changes, make sure that your vehicle is ready.  Check your tires for inflation and tread wear to ensure that you do not aquaplane on water; check wiper blades to ensure that they work well to keep the windshield clear in the rain.  Before winter sets in, get a proper winterization done on your vehicle.


Practical Challenge:

Your goal is to drive at or below the speed limit in every school zone that you encounter this month.  This may be tougher than you think, for some.  If you are used to driving over the limit on most roads, this speed will feel “normal” and slowing to school zone speed will at first feel impossibly slow.  This is just the contrast between your normal “just a bit over” speed in a regular zone and the reduced school zone limit.

Persist!  But if you fail, at least be patient when you get stuck behind the rest of us who are at the school zone limit!

To view the BONUS Tailgate Topics & Tips video segment, click on the video icon!blank-online-video-screen[1]

New Feature: Tailgate Topics & Tips is going VIDEO!

For the past year, Tailgate Topics & Tips has been published every other Tuesday and distributed free of charge to Thinking Driver contacts.

Your response has been overwhelmingly positive.  We have had great comments from you at trade shows, conference, by email and even phone calls.  The positive response has surprised us indeed?

Now Tailgate Topics & Tips is changing and getting better.

Beginning with this edition, we will now publish once monthly on the first Tuesday of each month and include a 3 – 5 minute video clip for you to use in your safety or tailgate meeting.

The basic print edition of Tailgate Topics & Tips has been FREE and will remain free always.

In order to take advantage of the video clip element of the program, after this sample, you will want to subscribe to Tailgate Topics & Tips PROFESSIONAL.

Your PROFESSIONAL subscription will give access to stream, or download video clips as they are released and also give you access to the archive of every Tailgate Topics & Tips video from the time you subscribe.  You may also add CORPORATE subscriptions for additional company associates at a discounted price.

Large organizations will want the CORPORATE subscription which includes subscription for up to 6 associates and a high quality DVD mailed to your office suitable for uploading to your corporate intranet.

In order to make this program affordable for all, we have worked hard to keep costs down:

  • Individual videos: $39.95
  • Annual subscription paid monthly on your credit card: $34.95/month
  • Annual subscription paid in advance: $299 (that’s under $25 per video)
  • Additional annual PROFESSIONAL associate subscriptions for people in the same company: $199 (available as prepaid only)
  • Annual CORPORATE subscription: $799 paid in advance (includes up to 6 individual PROFESSIONAL subscriptions and 1 DVD mailed directly to you monthly with authorization to upload to your corporate intranet with unlimited internal use)

Don’t want the video?  Don’t worry!

For those of you who love and use Tailgate Topics & Tips but for some reason choose NOT to subscribe to the PROFESSIONAL version with video, you will continue to receive the basic print version FREE every month courtesy of Thinking Driver.  The FREE print version is available for one month and then go into the archive which will be available for purchase as the next month’s edition becomes available.


Learn more from Thinking Driver’s President, Spencer McDonald.

To receive a copy of the Tailgate Topics & Tips Professional order form, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Tuesday, 08 October 2013 00:00

Tailgate Topics & Tips Is Now Available in VIDEO!Spencer


Meeting Leader’s Guide:

Opening Statement:

pic 1

On every highway in our nation, we find a mixture of vehicles: everything from the smallest – motorcycles, bicycles and scooters; to the very largest – heavy trucks often weighing 80,000 lbs or over 36,000 kgs.  That’s 40 times the weight of a typical passenger vehicle.

In the US, 5,000 people, every year died in large truck crashes, with nearly 4,000 of those being the result of passenger vehicles and trucks colliding.  In Canada, it’s a similar number per capita.

Print and read over this entire agenda (or download a PDF version here).

Questions For This Meeting:

pic 2

Q: When there is a fatal crash between a large truck and a passenger vehicle or smaller vehicle, which driver is typically the one who made the mistake that resulted in the crash?

Leader: Discuss and encourage debate; ask why do you think that?


pic 3

Surprising to many people, in fatal crashes involving large trucks with passenger vehicles, the large truck driver’s actions are a factor in only 22% of the crashes, while in over 80% of accidents, the passenger vehicle drivers were the main factor.

Q: What driver actions, on the part of the smaller vehicle may have contributed to a crash?  What are the common mistakes that drivers make around larger vehicles?


  • Driving in the blind spot or ‘No-Zone’ of the large truck where the larger vehicle can’t see the smaller one,pic 4
  • Passing a truck and cutting in too closely in front of it,
  • Tailgating the truck,
  • Driving too close to the truck on either side, in another lane, and not keeping your options open.  This also takes away the room for the truck to maneuver.

Tailgate Tips for Staying Safe Around Large Vehicles:

pic 5

Truck drivers have a difficult job navigating through traffic to make their deliveries on time and this task can be made much more difficult if we don’t share the road in a safe and responsible manner.

A fully loaded semi takes a much greater distance to stop and is much less maneuverable than a smaller vehicle so we need to take special care to give them the room that they need to keep everyone safe.

pic 6

  • Stay Out of the ‘No-Zone’.  ‘No-Zones’ are blind spots where you ‘disappear’ from the view of the truck driver.  Make sure that you can see the truck’s mirrors.  If you can’t see the mirror, the truck driver can’t see you.  So stay visible!
  • Leave a Good Gap When Lane Changing in pic 7front of a truck.  Large trucks need a much longer braking distance than cars.  Don’t cut into a truck’s space; if this happens it reduces a truck’s much needed braking distance and restricts evasive action.  At least a 4 second gap is best.pic 12
  • Don’t Tailgate a Truck.  The further you are away from a truck the less likely you will be involved in a collision and the better your vision around the truck will be.  Stay well back.  This increases your vision and lets you prepare for what’s coming up in front of the truck.
  • Allow Plenty of Room.  Large trucks are almost as wide as your lane of travel.  Following too closely behind one or driving in the next lane unnecessarily beside one reduces the space needed for you and the truck driver to react to changing traffic conditions and patterns.  Keep your options open by maintaining your space cushion!pic 9
  • Buckle Up!  In case you are involved in a crash with a truck or any other vehicle, wearing your seatbelt is the single most important thing you can do to save your life in a crash.

Pic 10

What About Unsafe Truck Drivers?

What is the best response when you see a truck driver driving aggressively?

If you see a truck driver driving aggressively and trying to cut through traffic, this unsafe driving may irritate or even provoke you to consider some sort of retaliation.  A better option is to note the name on the truck, the license plate number, time and location.  Call the trucking company and report the driver.  The company will be very interested in this information and the effect on the driver will be much more effective.


Pic 11

  • Stay out of the ‘No-Zone’.
  • Leave a good gap.
  • Don’t tailgate.
  • Allow plenty of room.
  • Wear your seat belt.

Practical Challenge:

This week, pay special attention to heavy trucks when you are driving, and work to keep your space while giving the truck driver the room he needs to stay out of trouble!

Video Template2

Thursday, 14 November 2013 00:00


Meeting Leader:

Review the Video attachment that accompanies this session.

Video #28 Template2

If you want to use this video for your meeting, complete the order form below and fax/email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  A link will then be provided allowing you access to a non-watermarked video.

Print and read over this entire agenda (or download a PDF version here).

Meeting Leader’s Guide:

Open the meeting with a statement.

Opening Statement:

winter-driving[1]Antilock brakes are standard on most vehicles now but not everyone know what they are really for or how to use them.  This meeting will provide an overview of this important safety feature of your vehicle.

Questions For This Meeting:

Q: What is the purpose of antilock brakes?

foot on brake

Discuss possible answers:

  • To stop easier in slippery conditions.
  • To keep the vehicle from skidding.
  • To make the brakes last longer.
  • Others?

Correct answer is:

  • Antilock brakes keep the wheels rotating even under severe braking in slippery conditions.  This continuing rotation or “Antilock” allows the tire to maintain traction with the road surface and allows the driver to steer.

Q: Have you ever felt your antilock brakes activate?  When?  Why?

Answers may be:



  • Emergency stops
  • Regular braking in winter conditions
  • Wet roads
  • Gravel or rough roads
  • Downhill in slippery conditions


  • Because the demand for traction has exceeded the tire’s ability to grip the road either because of rough braking, excess speed for conditions or sudden changes in the traction available to the vehicle.
  • You are overdriving for the conditions.

Q: What does your vehicle behave like or feel like when the antilock brakes engage?

Discuss: there will be several descriptions of what the various vehicles do.  Note that there will commonly be:


  • Brake pedal feels different and/or vibrates.
  • The antilock warning light on the dash may illuminate.
  • The vehicle may make unusual sounds that can alarm some drivers if they are not prepared for it.

Q: What is the correct driver action when the antilock brakes engage?


If you are in an emergency situation, hold the pedal down hard and don’t let up until danger is passed.

Remember to look and steer where you want to go, not at any hazards that you are avoiding because we tend to steer where we look.

If your antilock brakes comes on regularly, under non-emergency conditions, you are overdriving for the conditions and should reduce speed and initiate your stops sooner to provide greater braking distance.  This will allow you to brake more gently and not activate the antilock brakes.

Practical Challenge:

If you have not felt or practised what to do when antilock brakes engage, find a suitable place on a slippery surface to practise and become accustomed to the feel of antilock and remember to look and steer once the antilock brakes have engaged.


Tailgate Topics & Tips Professional Order Form

Friday, 13 December 2013 00:00


Meeting Leader:

Review the Video attachment that accompanies this session.

Video #29 Template

If you want to use this video for your meeting, complete the order form below and fax/email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  A link will then be provided allowing you access to a non-watermarked video.

Print and read over this entire agenda (or download a PDF version here).

Meeting Leader’s Guide:

Open the meeting with a statement.

Opening Statement:


Over 40% of fatalities happen at intersections because there is so much activity and vehicle interactions but there are a few simple habits that can help you to reduce the risk of an intersection crash.

Questions For This Meeting:

Q: What types of crashes happen at intersections?

Answers can be:

  • Rear end collisions.
  • Turning right conflicts with vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists.
  • Turning left conflicts with oncoming vehicles.
  • T-Bone crashes where someone fails to stop or runs a red light.
  • Others?


Any of these types of crashes can cause significant damage and injury including death.  It pays to take the time to ensure your safety…Your are the only person that you can really depend on to do the right thing.

Q: What are some things that you can do with your vision to reduce risk at intersections?

Manage the Risk


Look Ahead and Anticipate Hazards.

  • Anticipate changes in the lights.
  • As you approach a controlled intersection, where you may need to stop for an amber or red light, or any other time that you may need to slow or stop, anticipate what you may need to do by looking well ahead so that you are not surprised by the light.  You can tell by how long the light has been green or by looking at the walk signals if the lights may change.  Green lights that have been green for a long time are ‘stale green’ and may change at any moment.

Hesitate and Look Both Ways

  • If you are the first car to go on a green light, hold the brake long enough to look left, right and back to the left before releasing and proceeding through the intersection.  We have all seen someone run a red light or a stop sign and just a quick look before going can save you from the red light runner.

Q: How can you give yourself more time and space to deal with problems?

Tips: Keep your options open!

foot on brake

Cover the Brake

  • Covering the brake reduces your stopping distance by saving you the time that it takes to go from gas to brake.  When approaching an intersection, cover the brake by lightly depressing the brake pedal to turn on the brake lights.  This alerts the driver behind you that you may be braking and can help reduce the chances of getting rear ended.

Do a One Second Hold

foot position

  • As you move off in a line of traffic, hold the brake for one second just as the car in front of you moves before moving yourself.  This will open up an immediate cushion of space and following distance and give you time to take your eyes off the car in front momentarily to scan and look past them and down the road.
  • When you stop behind another car, at an intersection, leave enough space to see their rear tires where they touch the road.  This give you enough space to go around if they or someone in front of them becomes disabled and also gives you a cushion in case you are rear ended.

Set Up Correctly for Turns

  • If are turning, keep your front wheels pointed straight ahead until you are clear to turn.  This will prevent you from getting pushed into oncoming cross traffic or pedestrians if you are rear ended.
  • When you stop as the first car at a crosswalk, stop so that you can see the whole crosswalk (both lines) so that even a very short person, a child or someone in a wheel chair or personal scooter isn’t hidden by your vehicle hood.  This is particularly important if you drive a vehicle with a long, high hood-line.

These are just a few simple tricks to keep you safe at the most dangerous place on the road: intersections.

Practical Challenge:


When you are on the road this week, try each of the intersection tips that we have discussed.  Notice how leaving more space or hesitating before moving may feel strange or unusual, but also notice how giving yourself more space, time and better vision prepares you to deal with problems far enough in advance to keep them from becoming emergencies or incidents!


Tailgate Topics & Tips Professional Order Form

Tuesday, 11 February 2014 00:00



Meeting Leader:

  • Prepare in advance to make this meeting effective. Click HERE for a link to instructions on how to best use this information.
  • Print and read over this entire agenda (or download a PDF version here).
  • Think about how you want to lead the meeting.
  • Is there anything that is specific to your company or operation that you can include to personalize the information?
  • Review the video for this session.
  • Save the link to the video in your favourite folder on your browser for easy access.
  • Open and then minimize the viewer just before the meeting to make the video introduction smooth.

Video Template - Chains

NOT A SUBSCRIBER YET?  You will see a watermarked sample.  Get the 'clean' video for your meeting now by clicking here to get the order form and fax/email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  We will send you a link to the non-watermarked video.


Opening Statement:


If you drive in northern or high altitude areas with extreme winter conditions, you may use traction devices like tire chains to assist with control in winter but if you are not sure how to install them or drive with chains installed, you could be in for frustration and possibly vehicle damage or worse!

Questions for this Meeting:

Q: How many people here have used tire chains?


Tire chains have been around for many years and are still a great choice to add a massive amount of traction in difficult conditions.

Many people have chains in their vehicle in winter but have not yet needed them and therefore have never installed them.

Q: When is the best time to learn how to install chains?

The best time to install chains on your vehicle, the first time, is BEFORE you need them.  If you have a heated or at least dry garage or underground parking area to practise, this is best.

Tailgate Tips:

  • The video that we will watch shortly, shows a common and popular style of light duty truck or car chains but yours could be different.
  • Read the instructions first and follow them carefully to avoid vehicle damage or injury.
  • When installing on the roadside, wear a reflective vest.
  • Install the chains on the drive axle tires, on an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, install on the rear axle.
  • The first steps are to lay out the chains and depending on the type,pass them behind the tire and then connect them at the top or lay them out in front of the tire and drive forward onto the chain before pulling up both ends and connecting at the top.
  • It's important to ensure that the chains are snug on the tire tread and the elastic straps crossing in front of the wheel are also snug.
  • After installing the chains it's a good idea to check the tension after driving a short distance.
  • What is the maximum safe speed to drive with chains installed?  50 km/h or 30 mph is the maximum safe speed.R-047
  • If you are headed into the mountains and the roads are snowy and slick, before you approach a hill, install the chains in a safe area before you get stuck.  Many highways provide a 'chaining up' area.  Use this area and avoid the hazard of being stuck on a hill in a traveling lane trying to stay safe while installing your chains.  Always wear a safety vest to be seen as you work.
  • Remember to take the chains off in a safe area as soon as you are back on clear pavement to avoid damage to your vehicle, the chains and the roads.
  • Once your trip is over, take the time to clean and dry the chains, inspect them, then spray them with an anti-rust coating and re-pack them to be ready for the next time that you need them.winter_car_kit
  • Always carry an emergency winter survival kit including a flashlight with extra batteries, a cell phone, blankets, water, snacks, gloves, boots, first aid kit, ice scraper, jumper cables, extra windshield washer fluid, a reflective vest and reflective markers or flares.


  • Learn to install your chains in advance and practise to ensure that you can do this in difficult conditions.
  • Choose a safe place to install and remove the chains.
  • Wear a safety vest while working outside the vehicle.
  • Check for tension after driving a short distance.
  • Keep your speed below 50 km/h or 30 mph.
  • Clean and store chains properly after use.

Practical Challenge:

If your vehicles have tire chains, install them on a vehicle now as a team.

Download a PDF version, of this meeting planner, HERE!

Monday, 17 March 2014 00:00



Meeting Leader:

  • Prepare in advance to make this meeting effective. Click HERE for a link to instructions on how to best use this information.
  • Print and read over this entire agenda (or download a PDF version here).
  • Think about how you want to lead the meeting.
  • Is there anything that is specific to your company or operation that you can include to personalize the information?
  • Review the video for this session.
  • Save the link to the video in your favourite folder on your browser for easy access.
  • Open and then minimize the viewer just before the meeting to make the video introduction smooth.

Video #32 Template

  • NOT A SUBSCRIBER YET?  You will see a watermarked sample.  Get the ‘clean’ video for your meeting now by clicking here to get the order form and fax/email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  We will send you a link to the non-watermarked video.


Opening Statement:


Your eyes are your first line of defense, but if your vision is obstructed by poor visibility through your windshield or mirrors, you are facing a serious handicap to defensive driving.

The Questions for this Meeting:

Q: What can cause problems with vision through the windshield or mirrors?

Answers can be:

  • Dirt on the outside of the windshield or on the mirror.
  • Snow, ice or frost on the outside (and/or inside) of the windshield or on the mirrors.
  • Condensation
  • Smudging from wiping with a dirty cloth or hands inside (this can cause real problems with glare when the sun is low on the horizon).
  • Cracks in the windshield or mirror (or broken pieces missing from a mirror).
  • Poorly adjusted mirrors.
  • Can you think of others?


If you can’t see properly, you will not be able to avoid problems, so when you do your walk around, circle check or pre-trip inspection, make sure to check the windshield and mirrors.

Tailgate Tips:

  1. If it’s cold, warm the vehicle to thaw the windshield and melt the ice or snow.
  2. Remove any excess snow with a brush or broom (keep one handy in the vehicle).
  3. Use a squeegee on the outside windows when fueling up to keep them clean.  While you are at it, clean your headlights and turn signal lenses.
  4. Periodically wash the inside of the windshield to remove dust, dirt and smudging.windshield-washer-liquid
  5. Keep your windshield washer reservoir full and either top it up regularly or keep a spare jug in the vehicle.  This is really important in winter when road spray from the melting snow can require frequent use.
  6. Clean and adjust your mirrors so that the blind spots are minimized.  (You should only see the side of your own vehicle in them if you tilt your head a bit to the side.)

If you can’t see the hazard, you will not be able to deal with it.  Give yourself the best chance to avoid the other guy by keeping your windshield and mirrors in great shape!

Introduce the Video:

Spencer McDonald discusses the importance of keeping optimum vision with a clean windshield and adjusted mirrors.

Practical Challenge:

Have everyone check and clean the windshield and mirrors of their vehicle NOW.  Provide paper towels and glass cleaner – now there is no excuse!

Download a PDF version, of this meeting planner, HERE!

Monday, 07 April 2014 00:00



Meeting Leader:

  • Prepare in advance to make this meeting effective.  Click HERE for a link to instructions on how to best use this information.
  • Print and read over this entire agenda (or download a PDF version here).
  • Think about how you want to lead the meeting.
  • Is there anything that is specific to your company or operation that you can include to personalize the information?
  • Review the video for this session.

Video Template

  • Save the link to the video in your favourites folder on your browser for easy access.
  • Open and then minimize the viewer just before the meeting to make the video introduction smooth.


Opening Statement:

tire pressure

The only thing that keeps you on the road is your tires so their condition is critical to safety.  You should check them regularly.


Questions for this Meeting:

Q: When you check your tires, what should you look for/check?


Answers can be:

  • Tread depth and condition: there are ‘wear markers’ that will show when your tire is worn to the point of needing replacement.
  • Check for damage or foreign material/objects: cuts in the tread or sidewall, imbedded rocks, metal or other sharp objects.
  • Ensure that you are using the right type of tire for your application.  If off highway use is intended, you should look for the ‘M & S’ mark for mud and snow.  For winter use, dedicated snow tires will have the snowflake symbol moulded into the sidewall.
  • Tire pressure
  • Can you think of others?

Q: Who know where to look to find out the correct tire pressure?

Tailgate Tip:


First of all, you can’t tell if your tire is correctly inflated just by looking at it.  If your tire looks low, it is already dangerously underinflated.  You have to put a gauge on the valve stem and actually measure the pressure.

Many people think that the pressure on the tire sidewall is the right pressure to inflate the tire to.  This is not correct!  The tire sidewall will indicate the maximum safe inflation and weight carrying capacity for the tire and it’s a good thing to know and compare to the tire specification for your vehicle.  It is not uncommon for budget minded purchasers to install cheaper tires that are not rated for a high enough load capacity.  (You can buy a load range ‘B’ or ‘E’ tire of the same size but the ‘E’ is heavier duty and will be rated at a higher load capacity and maximum inflation).


The vehicle manufacturer determines what the right tire size and pressure should be based on the vehicle weight and intended use including load capacity (GVW) this information will be noted on the driver door or door frame or in the glove box or in the operator manual.  This is the pressure that you should inflate to.  Putting too much or too little air in the tire will affect the contact patch and traction that the tire is able to generate.

Introduce the Video:

Spencer McDonald discusses the importance of tire inspections including: tire pressure check, inspection for wear and damage during pre-trip inspections (to reduce the incident frequency) and improve safety performance.  Correct tire selection for application is also highlighted.

Practical Challenge:


If you have a tire to bring into the shop or classroom/meeting room, have everyone find the markings that identify maximum pressure and load range, capacity, etc.

Take your group out and inspect the tires on everyone’s vehicle including tire pressure.  Ask each person to find the vehicle sticker that notes correct pressure.

Discuss the findings and variation found in tire pressures.

Then correct the inflation of everyone’s tires if necessary!

Have a safe day!

Download a PDF version, of the is meeting planner, HERE!


NOT A SUBSCRIBER YET?  You will see a watermarked sample of the video.  Get the ‘clean’ video for your meeting now by clicking here to get the order form and fax/email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  We will send you a link to the non-watermarked video.

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