While there are many driving systems, the Smith System is a commonly used method for many drivers. The Smith System was invented by Harold Smith in 1952 to increase safety of commercial drivers and revolves around employing five rules when operating a motor vehicle. These five rules can dramatically reduce the risk of major accidents on both highways and roads.
Five Rules of the Smith System:
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 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 1000 ft 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 tailgate other vehicles too closely, and always anticipate other drivers moves.
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.
Quick Tips to Ensure Your Safety While Driving
- Listen and stay alert: Remain focused on the road at all times by not engaging in distracted driving. Use your mirrors to view oncoming vehicles. 16% of fatal crashes involve driver distraction.
- Proceed with caution: Pull to the right side of the road and do so swiftly, but cautiously when approached by emergency vehicles.
- Resume entry slowly: Use your turn signal! Slowly merge back onto the road or highway while checking your surroundings for others when re-entering roadways.
Stay vigilant, prepared, and remember to be a proactive driver. As a motorist, it is our responsibility to operate vehicles safely and in a sensible manner. Consider taking an online refresher driving course to stay current with law changes and best driving practices.