Five Principles of Safe Driving

Make the roads a safe place by employing the same methods we use with our drivers. 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.
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.

9 Responses to Five Principles of Safe Driving

  1. I have been looking for this for years. I took Driver Ed at summer school in 1965, the year I turned 16. We watched a short film sponsored by the Ford Motor Co. and presented by Mr. Smith. It was from a truck drivers point of view but workedas effectively for car drivers as well. It has also been invaluable to me when riding a motorcycle.

    Thank you for posting it. I’ll pass it on to my motorcyclist pals…

    • I also took drivers ed about the same time Dave Perkins did and watched a film on the Smith system which was reinforced by my instructor. One or more of the 5 points in the system always slip my mind and it’s good to have them in print to refer to.

  2. You need a sixth, and perhaps the most important point – that space and time are your friend. The closer any driver is to the one in front the greater their vulnerability to crashes. Minimum separation (to be able to pull up in time if things go pear shaped in front), is 2 seconds, and 3-4 seconds means plenty of time to pull up undramatically without throwing granny through the windscreen.

  3. I took the Smith system when I worked for Holsum Bread Company in West Palm Beach Florida and I know I took it when I drove for JB Hunt over the road, and at that time and a great safety record. What a great system it is. I do miss having the information on my key ring about the five steps to the Smith system. I wish I had it now but it got all tore up. But now I’ve got an iPad mini and I can see the five keys to Smith System anytime I want. The company I am was with now was bought out by another company which is called QC, out of Tampa Florida. I don’t know if they have used the Smith System or not but maybe I can talk to someone to tell them about the system. I’m sure they know or heard about the Smith System. I don’t know if they would be willing to spend money on it or not. I guess the only way to find out is to ask. I didn’t mean to make this comment as long as I have but I just wanted to let you know you’re doing a marvelous job, keep up the good work!!!!!!!! I feel like not only can the Smith System save time, money and effort, but there would be less damage to other people’s property and save damage that could be on the truck eventually, from bad driving habits, but most importantly the system can and I am sure has saved lives!!!!! As you well may know, things and property can be fixed or replaced but once you’re gone, you’re gone and that’s it. You can’t bring someone back who’s gone. What you are doing is so very important!!! Thank you for your time and your efforts. Drury Embry, 27nd Street, Binghamton, NY. 13903-2118. May the Good Lord protect and Bless and keep You all safe!!!!!!!!!!

    • Thank you for your comment. It is all of our responsibility to keep the trucking industry safe. Transportation professionals must lead the way when it comes to safe driving practices.

  4. Smith System works and is effective you cant do better than to practice the 5 keys every time you get behind the wheel! Go Smith System!!

  5. You’re so cool! I do not think I have read something like this before.
    So wonderful to discover somebody with some
    genuine thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up.
    This site is something that is needed on the web, someone with a bit of originality!

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