Getting You Home Safely Every Day
2015 saw the largest year-over-year percent increase in motor vehicle deaths in the past 50 years, according to the National Safety Council. Preliminary estimates show 38,300 people were killed on U.S. roads in 2015, likely making it the deadliest driving year since 2008. Despite gains in automobile design and safety advancements, driving an automobile remains a high-risk activity, which requires a constant focus on safety education and application.
Safety is job one for all of us at AKT Peerless. At its core, safety is applying knowledge, maintaining awareness and remaining focused on what you are doing, constantly. Safety is a learned mindset – it is an educated awareness that drives you to evaluate surroundings, understand what can occur, and take corrective actions to avoid an unsafe outcome. It is about reading the signs and acting proactively to ensure a positive result.
The case is the same when applied to operating an automobile. As a former first responder who has logged a great many road miles in a wide variety of geographies and conditions, I’ve learned firsthand what it takes to drive safely. I’m hopeful these core concepts can serve to help bring you home safely each and every day.
Introducing SPACE & SPEED
SPACE & SPEED (S&S) is a training concept I’ve developed to help drivers focus their attention on factors that can inhibit their safety when behind the wheel. As driving too fast is often a contributing factor in automobile accidents, the concept of S&S trains you to reduce your SPEED as the SPACE in and around your vehicle is negatively impacted, such as by traffic, intersections, pedestrian crossings, construction, poor road surfaces, noisy passengers, congestion of any kind, or by natural hazards like rain, snow and ice, heavy winds, hilly terrain, animal crossing zones and so on.
The S&S concept views SPACE not just as a buffer zone in terms of distance, but also as the physical aspects, conditions and elements around you and your vehicle. With S&S, included in SPACE is anything and everything that can inhibit your safety while driving. I should note that the condition of your vehicle must also be considered.
So with this understanding, when applying S&S, your SPACE determines your SPEED, up to the designated speed limit – it’s that simple. For example, a dry, straight and flat open road will typically allow you to drive at the posted speed limit because your SPACE or buffer zone is uninhibited. As your SPACE becomes inhibited, you must either add distance (increase your buffer zone) and/or reduce your SPEED according to your abilities. Within the posted speed limits, only you can determine the level of SPEED reduction needed to ensure you will arrive safely at your destination.
When in doubt, slowing down is always a good reaction – it may just save your life. Slowing down and adding SPACE is the absolute best reaction in any situation. If you simply regulate your SPEED based on the “SPACE” around you, you will significantly improve your driving safety.
In addition to S&S, here are some proven habits that you can apply today to help keep you safe while driving:
- ALWAYS wear a safety belt. If you do get into an accident, this alone could save your life. This is proven, and I’ve witnessed the bad outcomes of not wearing seat belts too many times. Please wear your safety belt!
- ALWAYS make other passengers wear their safety belts, because you could be killed by a passenger propelled through the cab of your vehicle in the event of an accident, especially someone seated directly behind you.
- ALWAYS focus on driving the automobile. Distracted driving is often cited as the primary cause of automobile accidents, along with speed and drunk driving. You cannot apply the S&S concept if you are distracted in any way.
- ALWAYS stow hard or heavy items in the trunk versus the passenger seat or back seats of the cab, because you could be killed or severely injured by these items propelled through the cab of your vehicle in the event of an accident. A simple can of corn from the grocery store can become a deadly projectile.
- ALWAYS use daytime driving lamps to improve the visibility of your vehicle by other drivers.
- ALWAYS use the two-second rule to determine minimum following distance or “space” (buffer zone) between you and the vehicle ahead (this is for ideal conditions) – a key rule of S&S.
- When stopping in traffic, ALWAYS position your vehicle so you can see the rear tires of the vehicle ahead of you. This will ensure you will have sufficient space to pull around the vehicle in front of you if necessary. This also creates an additional buffer space to allow for greater reaction time, if needed.
- ALWAYS be on the look-out for motorcycles. Pay particular attention to the blind spots created by the front corner posts of your vehicle. They often block the view of motorcycles or other vehicles.
- ALWAYS know your travel route in advance and allow sufficient drive time. NEVER EVER let an arrival or meeting time alter your safe driving habits.
- Everyday driving is not a competition – NEVER allow another driver’s actions to alter your safe driving habits.
- And ALWAYS, ALWAYS check your blind spot when making a lane shift. I can’t stress this enough. You CANNOT rely on mirrors alone for this. In addition to checking your mirrors, you MUST ALWAYS turn and look to verify your blind spot is clear before signaling and changing lanes, each and EVERY TIME. And before checking your blind spot, you MUST ALWAYS first ensure you have established sufficient distance (buffer zone) to the front of the vehicle to allow the time you need to physically look at your blind spot. Drivers who do not check their blind spot before lane shifts contribute significantly to auto accidents. Drivers who do check their blind spot (taking their eyes off the roadway to the front), but don’t allow sufficient buffer ahead of their vehicle also cause accidents.
- Remember, it isn’t enough to just reduce your SPEED – you must ALWAYS remain focused on driving your vehicle.
We at AKT Peerless recognize the importance of safety training and we’re proud to share this information to help get everyone home safely. Applying the simple concept of SPACE & SPEED in conjunction with these basic habits will help improve your driving safety. We also know awareness is key, so please help us by sharing this information broadly with your family, friends and colleagues – you might just save another life.
If you should have any questions about this content or would like more information, please contact AKT Peerless at 800-985-7633 or visit us on Facebook.