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Monday, 15 June 2015 00:00

SAFETY MEETING PLANNER & AGENDA

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

NOT A SUBSCRIBER YET?  You will see a watermarked sample of the video.  Get the ‘clean’ video for your meeting now by visiting the Tailgate Topics & Tips page on the Thinking Driver website.

START YOUR MEETING!

Opening Statement:

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As we move into summer, it’s worth talking about some of the other road users that begin to appear when the weather improves.  Motorcyclists are one of the most vulnerable groups to injury or fatality when involved in collisions.  By nature, motorcycles attract a contingent that are risk takers and may be much more aggressive in their driving/riding habits.  These riders often find themselves the makers of their own misery as single vehicle accidents resulting from excessive speed or poor riding skills paired with high risk behaviour.

But what about the majority of riders?  Most are more careful and take much less risk than these other aggressive riders.

The Questions for this Meeting:

Q: When a crash happens involving a motorcycle and other vehicle, who is typically found at fault?

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Answer:

It’s most often the fault of the OTHER DRIVER… SURPRISED?

In fact, when it’s not a single vehicle incident involving the motorcycle, it’s usually the other driver who has made a mistake that resulted in the accident.

Q: What is the most common place and type of collision involving a motorcycle and other vehicle?

Answer: (solicit as many as the group can suggest)

DecisionLine[1]

There are certainly many places where vehicles can collide; but the most common place for another vehicle and a motorcycle to collide is at an intersection when the other driver is turning left and turns in front of the motorcyclist.

Q: Why does this happen? (a driver turning in front of an oncoming motorcycle)

Answers:

There are 2 primary reasons that this can happen:

1. The driver of the other vehicle simply did not see the motorcycle.  Motorcycles are smaller and more difficult to see and many drivers don’t think to actually watch for them.

2. The driver of the other vehicle DOES see the motorcycle but thinks he has time to turn because he misjudges the approach speed.

Tailgate Tips:

Motorcycle-accident1[1]

Motorcycles are vulnerable road users; they do not have the protection of a car or truck bodywork and collisions almost always result in injury.

If you expect to see motorcycles, you are more likely to detect them.  Often we can filter out the things that we don’t expect and just not see them.  Look for motorcycles especially at intersections.

Motorcycles are much lighter than other vehicles and can stop in much shorter distances.  This means that when you are following a motorcycle, you should leave more distance.  If the rider has to make an emergency stop, the bike will stop in much shorter distance than your vehicle.

When you see a motorcycle approaching realize that it’s easy to misjudge the speed because the size of the cycle and the fact that it’s coming towards you makes it difficult to estimate speed.

Use the vision tips from the first of Thinking Driver’s 5 Fundamentals, ‘Think and Look Ahead’ to develop your vision skills:

1. Keep Your Eyes Up – It’s tempting to look down and over the hood of the car at the centre line or the tail lights in front of you, but this can cause several problems.  When your eyes are looking downward over the hood, steering can become choppy and require many more adjustments and frequently you will either cut corners or run wide.  It’s much more effective to keep your eyes up and this practise prepares your for the next technique.

2. Eye Lead Time – Look 12 to 15 seconds ahead of where your vehicle is at any given time.  As your speed increases, so will the distance you look ahead if you always look for this time interval.

3. Move Your Eyes – This takes practise and intent.  Look left, right, ahead and into the mirrors and as you look, identify potential problems so that you can decide what you will do about them.  Moving your eyes is particularly important to see things to the side because your peripheral vision becomes increasingly ineffective as your speed increases.

4. See the Big Picture – By moving your eyes, you get a ‘big picture’ perspective of the traffic environment and your place in it.  Pilots all this ‘situational awareness’ and it helps you to make good decisions about speed and movements such as lane changes, well in advance.

5. Eye Contact – The only way to know if another driver sees you is to make eye contact with them.  If they are looking at you and you see them making eye contact with you, you can be fairly sure (but not guaranteed) that they see you.  If another driver is moving into your space and you want to establish eye contact, a light tap on the horn will attract their attention.

Introduce the Video:

Thinking Driver President, Spencer McDonald, discusses the importance of being aware of all road users, especially motorcycles.

Practical Challenge:

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For the next week, make a point of watching for motorcycles and develop a habit of identifying them as soon as you can.

Be especially careful at intersections when you are turning left.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015 00:00

SAFETY MEETING PLANNER & AGENDA

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

NOT A SUBSCRIBER YET?  You will see a watermarked sample of the video.  Get the ‘clean’ video for your meeting now by visiting the Tailgate Topics & Tips page on the Thinking Driver website.

START YOUR MEETING!

Opening Statement:

In order to have an accident, involving you and another vehicle, the two vehicles need to come into contact.  It makes sense then, to do whatever is reasonable to reduce the chances of this unfortunate contact.  The most obvious way to do this is to keep away from other vehicles!  The further away you are from other road users, the less chance that you will have a conflict.  Keeping space between yourself and others on the road is called keeping a SPACE CUSHION.

The Question for this Meeting:

Q: Where are the places that vehicles get too close together and risk conflict?

Answers could be:

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  • At intersections where everyone is waiting for the light or for their turn at the stop sign;
  • On the highway where tailgaters may follow too close;
  • On multilane roadways where other vehicles (especially large ones) may drive right beside you;
  • When merging and other vehicles may not allow enough space;
  • Can you think of more?

The safest and most relaxing driving style is to try and drive all by yourself on the road, well away from other drivers.  The benefits of this are many.  This practise automatically reduces the chance of accidents simply because you are further away from other vehicles but there are many more!

More space gives you:

  • More time to react and brake or steer if something unexpected happens;
  • Better visibility around the vehicle ahead;
  • More room to manoeuvre and lane change if there is a delay or obstruction in your lane;
  • A smoother ride because you no longer need to brake abruptly;
  • Better fuel economy and reduced vehicle wear because you are now driving more smoothly.

It’s easy to adjust your driving style to develop a space cushion, and it doesn’t cost you anything…In fact, it may save you time because you can plan your moves further in advance to avoid hold-ups.

Tailgate Tips:

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  • On the highway, adjust your speed to minimize the time that you have other vehicles right next to you;
  • When all the traffic is moving at the same speed, and is grouped together, keep the same speed but run that speed outside of the pack so that you won’t be part of it if there is a crash (ever hear of chain reaction crashes?);
  • Keep a good following distance – at least 2 seconds but 3 or more is better;
  • Stop at intersections so that you are far enough back to see the crosswalk if you are in car #1 in line, and far enough back so that you see the tires on the car in front of you where they touch the road if you are not the 1st car in line;
  • Hesitate for just 1 second when you move off if you are in a line of cars.  This gives you an immediate cushion in front;
  • Signal early when lane changing or merging and wait for someone to give you the space rather than forcing the issue…somone almost always will.  Next time, return the favour and let someone else in.  That is just good defensive tactics, instead of challenging them to force their way in;
  • If you are tailgated, add more following distance in front so that you will be able to brake gradually when necessary and reduce the chance of the tailgater running into your rear (sure it’s his fault if he does, but do you really need the hassle?).

Introduce the Video:

Spencer McDonald discusses the importance of leaving space around your vehicle when driving.

Practical Challenge:

Today, when you are on the road, pay attention to how close you may be to other drivers when you may be able to use these techniques to build a space cushion, then try them out and see how easy it is to apply this Thinking Driver Tailgate Tip!

2 seconds

Download a pdf version here!

Friday, 10 April 2015 00:00

SAFETY MEETING PLANNER & AGENDA

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

NOT A SUBSCRIBER YET?  You will see a watermarked sample of the video.  Get the ‘clean’ video for your meeting now by visiting the Tailgate Topics & Tips page on the Thinking Driver website.

START YOUR MEETING!

Opening Statement:

accidentstory

Rear end collisions can cause severe vehicle damage and result in serious injuries.

Braking early to alert the driver behind is one way to reduce the chances of getting hit from behind but are there other strategies?

What else can you do to prevent another driver from running into you from behind?  While you may not have any control over what the guy back there does, you do have some control over whether he sees you or not and if you fail to take the actions that you can to be visible, then you have failed to take every reasonable action to prevent the collision.

The Questions for this Meeting:

Q: What conditions could exist that could make it hard for the driver behind you to see you?

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Answers:

  • Fog
  • Twilight
  • Dusty conditions
  • Snowy conditions
  • Rain
  • Essentially, any condition that impairs visibility.

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Many drivers fail to adjust speed in adverse conditions and drive too fast causing them to ‘overdrive’ their headlights.  In other words, they are going so fast that they can’t stop in the distance that they can see, so they are likely to hit a stopped or slow moving vehicle.

Q: What’s the best way to make your vehicle more visible from the rear in adverse conditions?

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Answers:

TURN ON YOUR LIGHTS.

When others can see you, they are more likely to avoid conflicts.  Using both headlights and taillights is your best strategy to ensure that other drivers have a good chance of seeing you.

Unfortunately, many of us don’t turn on our lights in low visibility because we either don’t think about this at all or we already have daytime running lights and think that this is sufficient to alert other drivers.

daytime running lights

Daytime running lights have been required for vehicles in Canada since 1989 and they are common although not required in the US.  The purpose is to enhance vehicle visibility – to make you more visible to other drivers.

This vehicle feature turns on the headlamps at a lower intensity as soon as the vehicle is started and put into gear, or the brake is released.

Daytime running lights don’t turn on the taillights though, so they don’t help with visibility from the rear.

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Q: How many of you turn on the lights when visibility deteriorates to become more visible from the rear?

Answers:

For the ‘YES’ people: GREAT!  Keep it up!

To the ‘NO’s': Here is your challenge.

Practical Challenge:

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The next time that you are driving in conditions that reduce visibility, turn on your lights and get the benefit of greater visibility from both front and rear and reduce your risk of getting rear ended!

Introduce the Video:

Spencer McDonald discusses the importance of turning on your vehicle lights when driving visibility deteriorates.

Wednesday, 04 March 2015 00:00

SAFETY MEETING PLANNER & AGENDA

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

NOT A SUBSCRIBER YET?  You will see a watermarked sample of the video.  Get the ‘clean’ video for your meeting now by visiting the Tailgate Topics & Tips page on the Thinking Driver website.

START YOUR MEETING!

Opening Statement:

Even the best drivers can let their driving deteriorate when their attitude starts to slide.

The Questions for this Meeting:

Q: What attitudes can turn a normally good driver into a risk-taking one?

Answers:

road_rage[1]

  • A feeling that everyone is out to get me or hold me up.
  • Judgements about other driver’s actions “everyone else is a lousy driver” that leads to frustration.
  • Angry feelings that may have no connection with driving until you are behind the wheel like a fight with the boss or spouse or kids or co-worker.
  • A need to be right or “win” in a situation.
  • Can you think of more?

These things are called personal factors and they influence our driving behaviour if we let them.

Attitudes are a combination of what we are thinking and feeling.  These are things that we have control over at least to some degree.  Someone who regularly cultivates strong negative feelings and thinking including anger and blame will often have what is called a bad attitude but this is just a reflection of their emotional state.

Q: What kind of driving behaviour can result from negative attitudes?

Answers:

road-rage[1]

  • Aggressive driving like speeding or cutting others off.
  • Retaliation and road rage
  • Vehicle abuse
  • What others?

Taking personal responsibility for our thinking, feelings and attitudes is a key to safe vehicle operation.  When you are behind the wheel, it’s your responsibility to drive defensively regardless of the pressure that may invite you towards negative thinking and emotion.

Tailgate Tips:

  • If you believe yourself to be a good driver, realize that most others are not as skilled as you and give them a break!  Don’t expect perfection: in fact, expect poor driving from others and take the high road by not reacting negatively.
  • Remind yourself about everything that you have to be grateful for in life.  It sounds simplistic but if we forget that we have so much to be grateful for, and start focusing on the negatives, we can easily get caught up in an attitude slide.courtesy wave
  • Give the other guy a break regularly and make sure that if someone gives you a break to return a friendly wave.
  • Remind yourself regularly that you are in control of your emotional weather and that it’s your thinking that most determines if you have a sunny disposition or a stormy one!

Introduce the Video:

Spencer McDonald discusses the importance of keeping your attitude in check while driving.

Practical Challenge:

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For the next week, check your attitude and see if you can shift it in a positive direction by thinking positively about just about anything.  The easiest thing is to just think about everything that you can be grateful for in life.  Notice that choosing your thoughts really does shift your attitude towards everything including driving!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013 00:00

logo_Saskatchewan-Safety-Council[1]The Saskatchewan Safety Council's 40th Annual Industrial Safety Seminar took place February 4-6, 2013 in Regina, SK. Thinking Driver was pleased to be in attendance and had a display booth in the tradeshow component.

Training Coordinator, Pam Peterson, spoke with attendees and visitors to the booth about the Thinking Driver courses and products available in Saskatchewan and throughout North America.

Thinking Driver's Chief Instructor and Regina resident, Dan Boyer, was on hand to meet clients and other Saskatchewan based company reps to answer their driver training questions.

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Spencer McDonald, President of Thinking Driver and recognized authority on driver behaviour, psychology and training, delivered a session on "8 Critical Fleet Safety Elements".

Published in NEWS
Friday, 01 March 2013 00:00

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Thinking Driver, a leading corporate driver improvement training and consulting firm based in British Columbia and Safety Services Nova Scotia, a not for profit safety services provider recently signed an agreement granting Safety Services Nova Scotia distribution rights to Thinking Driver products and services in Nova Scotia including Thinking Driver training courses, training support materials, eLearning products, DVDs and other Canadian content safety products.

Thinking Driver courses and services are in use by government and industry across western and northern Canada and into the U.S. serving a diverse spectrum of industrial and government sectors from oil and gas, transportation, engineering and environmental as well as heavy industry and construction.

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Thinking Driver President, Spencer McDonald says: "We are delighted to have Safety Services Nova Scotia join our distribution network. We have points of service across Western Canada with instructors as far as Saskatchewan and a U.S. distributor serving numerous states, but have been seeking a professional organization to represent Thinking Driver in Eastern Canada."

To read more of this press release from Safety Services Nova Scotia, click here.

Published in NEWS
Tuesday, 19 March 2013 00:00

One driving attitude that can get us into trouble and stress out is an obsession with getting around the guy in front of us.1713167[1]

Do you need to be at the front of the line?

Common sense tells us that there really is no front of the line to reach, so to try and get there by weaving through traffic and passing anyone in front of us is a losing proposition. We are reminded of this every time that slow guy, that we just passed, catches us at the next light!

(Don't you hate when that happens?)

Rushing through traffic in an attempt to get to the front of the line or to make up time when you are late just doesn't make sense. It's high risk driving, uses more fuel, it's stressful and leads to violations or worse. It just doesn't work.

We conducted a study a few years ago, using 3 of our instructors, who all came in from the same suburb of Vancouver, to see how much quicker hurrying through traffic would be. We assigned 2 different alternating driving styles for each driver to use on alternating days: one style was to get to the office as fast as possible and the other was to relax, choose a lane, stay in it and go with the flow. The rules for "getting there as fast as possible" were: no red light running, but push the yellows to the legal limit, no excessive speeding, change lanes to get ahead whenever you get past another car. The rules for "go with the flow": relax, leave a safe following distance, drive as perfectly, safely and defensively as possible.

What were the results after a month of gathering times? Depending on traffic, the commute took between 45 and 60 minutes daily but the most interesting result was that regardless of how heavy or difficult the traffic was, the get there "fast" group only saved an average of 3 minutes over the "defensive" group on any given day. A 3 minute saving at the cost of up to an hour of concerted aggressive driving! Not much of a pay off.

Getting%20Passed[1]A better attitude to adopt is one where you choose a lane that works for you, stay in it, go with the flow and leave a comfortable space in front of you. Let someone else rush around you then smile and wave when you catch them all stressed out at the next light and you just cruise up relaxed and stress free.

When we expect traffic to be heavy and slow and choose an attitude of acceptance, we can relax and drive safely and defensively in the knowledge that it really doesn't take that much longer. Arrive calm, and ready for the day instead of frazzled and burned out before we even start work.

Seasoned professional drivers know this. They will tell you that the best strategy is acceptance of traffic conditions and a go with the flow attitude. Back in the day, a crusty old trucker, named Dick, taught me to drive trucks and said, "slow down and make time". Dick said that he loved it when he missed the light and caught a yellow. He said, "there's nothing like being front of the line and first off on the green!". Maybe there is a front of the line after all.

  • Spencer McDonald, President, TD Logo

 

Published in NEWS
Monday, 22 April 2013 00:00

Picture 3Thinking Driver delivers Winter Driving Skills Training to Government of Northwest Territories, Department of Transportation Employees.

When I was asked if I would like to go to the Northwest Territories (NWT) for three weeks to deliver 'Winter Driving: Skid Control and Recovery', I thought what a great opportunity to see the North and at the same time, be in the very best part of Canada to facilitate winter driving courses.

My first stop was Yellowknife, where I was warmly greeted by the NWT employees. They had a large field near the airport that had been snow plowed for this course - which was great - but then they added water. Needless to say, this was an excellent simulation of roads turned to ice and/or their famous 'ice roads'.

We begin training with a classroom theory session in Winter Driving Fundamentals. We cover such things as the 6 conditions of winter driving, fundamentals of traction and control, 3 principal types of skid and how to recover from them. There were a lot of good questions in the class which made for an excellent discussion time prior to going out in the vehicles and putting it all into practical application.

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Getting into the vehicles and out onto the icy surface to put the theory into practice really raises the enthusiasm and excitement of the group. It's about the most fun you can have in winter driving conditions: A safe, closed course, free of obstruction or other traffic, perfect for skidding.

When I took off to the Great White North, I cam prepared and was certainly grateful to have packed well once the temperature hit -40 degrees. The extra hat I picked up was very useful.

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Despite the chillier temperatures, each morning I awoke to the beauty of a northern sunrise in all its glory. Breathtaking to behold and what a way to start my day!

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After a week in Yellowknife, it was time to head to Hay River for a week. This leg of the journey began with a 45 minute flight over "Great Slave Lake" in a DC-3 with Buffalo Air. Not a large plane, but cozy, friendly, and we arrived safe and sound.

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Again I was warmly greeted and welcomed by the NWT staff. Their track was created on an open field with a large snow island in the middle. The track was a combination of packed snow, ice, with some gravel sticking out to create a good example of what is found on local roads. The practical training was challenging, but we only had to shovel snow once to free a truck from the snow piled island. Another winter skill learned - how to get your vehicle unstuck!

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My third week in the North started with another flight aboard Buffalo Air in that DC-3 to Yellowknife, followed by a 1.5 hour flight in a Boeing 737 to Inuvik with a brief stop over at Norman Wells. Inuvik was the smaller of the three locations and again filled with extremely friendly people. Once again the NWT staff greeted me like a Rock Star.

Picture 9

The practical training location was a large square area on the Mackenzie River, plowed for this course. For safety reasons, there was a wide snow bank separating out training area from an ice road that leads to Tukoyaktuk. This area proved to be challenging and a good simulation of what these NWT employees drive on a daily basis.

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At the beginning of these three weeks, I felt a bit intimidated with the thought of attempting to teach winter driving skills to people who live their entire lives in the North and grew up in this driving environment. What could I teach that they didn't already know? As it turned out, the Thinking Driver program had many things to offer: How to drive in winter with new vehicle technology such as ABS brakes or electronic stabilizers; One of the main things that I was able to pass on to these students, is how to handle an 'under-steer' situation. Most were experts when their vehicle went into 'over-steer', but were unfamiliar with how to get out of an 'under-steer'. 90% of those who attended indicated they learned new things as well as having obtained an excellent review and reminder in other areas that could be improved upon.

I believe that if I can pass on even one good tip to enhance a driver's skill and competence and make driving a safer part of their day, then I've done my job and can go home happy and with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. After three weeks in the Northwest Territories, I am a happy man indeed.

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– Michael Glas, Chief Instructor, Thinking Driver, March 2013

Published in NEWS
Friday, 24 May 2013 00:00

1957_Chevrolet_Bel_Air_Sport_Sedan_01[1]When I was 7 years old we came home one day from the grocery store and unloaded everything into the house while the car sate in the driveway. I stayed in the house with Mom and my sister while Dad put the car away. It was a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport sedan. Back then it was just a nice car; a couple more decades would pass before it became a classic.

So Dad backed the car into the garage and in the process tore off the back door that I had left open in my rush to get in the house. Clearly my fault - at least according to Dad.

Now in 1965, what do you think happened to children that left car doors open to be torn off by garages? Today it would draw attention from child services but back then I was just being taught a lesson.

But I digress. Whose fault was this really? Or is fault even worth discussing? Whose fault was it when Mom backed over my sister's bicycle with the Rambler?

Things just seemed to go wrong in our family when vehicles backed up. Or perhaps I'm a backing up jinx?

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As a teenager, I cut the front end of my 1970 Dodge Super Bee into a power pole backing out of a service station and once even backed up in a left turn lane (don't ask) with Dad's pick up truck right into the grille of the compact car hiding behind the tailgate. I was real close when my buddy, Terry, backed his Toyota into a stump at Long Beach (he spent quite a while convincing us that it had been his wife's fault...somehow) and I was home when my former wife Rhonda backed her Acura out of the garage (or tried to) with the door still closed and another co-worker once connected with a tree while backing up in a company truck.

Is it just me or does this backing up stuff seem to be just a little more complicated than we all think?

In most vehicle fleets, backing incidents account for over 40% of all reportable vehicle incidents even though we drive in reverse only a fraction of the distances that we go forward. Backing incidents are a big deal. They absorb huge dollars in property damage and not infrequently result in serious injury.

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Not surprisingly, backing incidents are almost always PREVENTABLE. In our courses, we highlight 7 fundamental ideas to prevent backing incidents. Maybe they will help you avoid some problems that I have seen (and on occasion caused).

1. Avoid Backing! - Let's face it, if you don't back up, you won't have a backing up incident. It's easier than you might think. Before you park your vehicle or get into any tight area, think about how you will get out. Can this be done without backing up? Most of us already scope out the spots, in the mall parking lots, that let us drive though an unoccupied spot to the next one, leaving us facing out for a quick getaway. That's thinking! Now apply that same logic at work. If you have to go somewhere to park or for other reasons, back up first, when you can see that the area is clear, and make your first move forward when you leave.

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2. Circle Check - If you are moving your vehicle from a place where it has been parked or has not moved for a long enough that things may have changed, walk around and make sure that it's safe before you move it.

3. Look Back - In a pick up or utility vehicle, set up your mirrors properly and use them! If you can't see what's back there, stop and get out to look! In a passenger car, look out the centre of the rear window, over the back seat. (If you twist around and hike yourself up on your right butt cheek, it's easier). Looking out the driver window, over your left should doesn't tell you much and creates a huge blind spot everywhere except the narrow view down the driver's side.

4. Use a Guide - If someone else is around to help of if you have a passenger, have them get out and direct you.

5. Back Slowly - Your vehicle handles differently in reverse and can get difficult to control with too much speed. A walking pace is all the speed you will likely ever need.

6. Avoid Distractions- Don't try to multitask and use your cell phone or other hand-held device. If you are distracted by strong emotions or in a conversation, stop for a second before you back up and focus on your driving.

7. Practise - We back up so little that most of us never really get very good at it. So get out and practise backing up into parking spots in a deserted parking lot. Take a couple of traffic cones, if you have them, or small cardboard boxes and make up a little course for yourself. As you get better, your confidence will increase and you will soon be backing up safely, like a pro.

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All of the backing incidents that I described above were off the job, and this is where I want to take extra care. Every year hundreds (yes hundreds) of young children are injured or killed when one of their parents, relatives or friends backs over them in the driveway at home. The 7 principles that you just read can save the life of a child. Go back now and read them again.

How can you apply them at home and at work?

Maybe as a kid, my family was pretty lucky after all. We only lost a bicycle or two - and that stupid Chevy door.

spencer

- Written by Spencer McDonald, President, Thinking Driver, Surrey, BC

Published in NEWS
Tuesday, 18 June 2013 00:00

I'm a liar. There, I said it. I lie.

cartoon-house-painter-logo-18336494[1]

I lie sometimes when I'm in a social situation and my line of work is questioned. If I know I'll never see these folks again, I might just tell them that I'm a painter. "I paint houses" I might say.

Now, I have been in the driver safety/training business for almost 3 decades, I hold pretty much every vehicle related training license available, I have been hired as a consultant to 2 different governments to develop licensing programs including road testing, I have trained hundreds of emergency vehicle operators including police pursuit training and authored numerous training courses, manuals and articles. But, sometimes, when asked what I do, I claim to be a house painter. Not that I think painting houses is a more worthy line of work than mine or that I'm ashamed of my profession, it's just that few people have strong opinions about house painting; how it should be done or not done or wants to start a debate to prove that the YOU paint isn't really right. If I say "I'm a house painter", my conversational partner will reply in a rather disinterested tone with eyes glazed over "oh, how interesting" and look desperately for someone whom they judge to actually BE interesting.

PJ-BA418_BONDSJ_D_20110418180528[1]

I lie because if I say I'm a driver safety training professional and have to explain just what that is, the next question or comment directed at me is usually about the accident that someone was in or ticket that someone got that 'clearly' was not their fault. They want to tell me the whole story of how the weather that day was particularly nasty, how the road has that strange dip, how the car in front "just stopped" for no reason making them run into the back of him. They want to tell me why the policeman who wrote them a ticket was wrong to do so. I have listened while otherwise seemingly intelligent people argue that they should not have received that speeding ticket because everyone else was speeding too!

What they really want is for me to agree with them.

I have learned to engage in these conversations at my peril. You see, as soon as I offer even the slightest of professional opinion about the apparent circumstances of the crash that they were in, mention the concept of preventability or point out that indeed, if they were speeding, the fact that everyone else was too isn't a very good excuse. (Mom always asked me if everyone else jumped off the bridge would I jump too?)

As soon as I disagree at all with the rightness of their position, or offer a different perspective, any credibility that I may have had with them initially, is gone. I become, in their eyes, an idiot. And I wish that I had said, "I'm a painter".

man-with-keys[1]

Funny thing about driving, EVERYONE thinks that they are an expert when in fact most people are woefully uninformed about some of the most basic of rules and regulations, defensive driving principles and tactics. Moreover, most people have an overinflated opinion of their own driving ability. A dangerous combination, I believe.

This condition, I think, points to one of the most fundamental reasons why we continue to have so many crashes. If we all believe that there is nothing wrong with our driving, that we know all that there is to know about driving, that we are all superbly skilled, expert drivers and everyone else is the problem, then we are unlikely to expend any energy to make improvements or to even learn from our mistakes.

10881498-car-and-magnifying-glass[1]

So next time when you climb behind the wheel, ask yourself, "How's my driving?". Really analyse how you are doing instead of noting everyone else's mistakes and complaining about how bad everyone else is. Ask yourself if there are any bad habits that have crept in over the years that you could work on. Just don't assume that you couldn't possibility get any better. When life sends you feedback on your driving by way of a close call or a ticket, don't be so fast to blame someone else, there may be a valuable lesson that you are missing?

Who knows, you may just prevent that next ticket or incident.

Me? I'm still banking on never meeting someone who actually needs a house painter at one of those gatherings! So far so good.....

- Written by Spencer McDonald, President, Thinking Driver, Surrey, BC

spencer

Published in NEWS
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