What is the Smith System?

Since 1952, the Smith System has been the leading driver training and accident prevention program for drivers of all vehicles, large and small. Designed by Harold Smith, the Smith System is a tried and true method to improve driver safety and reduce company costs. There are five main tenets of the program.

The first step is to “aim high,” according to the Smith System Driver Improvement Institute. Drivers should be looking further ahead on the road than other drivers, identifying other vehicles or hazards ahead and driving defensively to avoid creating an accident by stopping short or suddenly.

Next, drivers should be taking in the “big picture” of the road around them. This aspect involves keeping aware of your greater surroundings on the road. This means knowing where you are in relation to other vehicles, as well as taking into account other factors like weather conditions or roadway construction that could pose a problem.

Drivers should also “keep their eyes moving” while on the road to keep aware of dynamic situations that occur while driving. This step encourages drivers to be constantly checking their angles and blind spots to watch for swerving or speeding drivers or vehicles that may have recently merged from a side road, onramp or other unseen location.

Fourth, the Smith System encourages drivers to always have a planned “out” in case of a rapid change in driving dynamics. This means leaving ample space between your vehicle and the vehicles around you so that if you need to stop suddenly or swerve, you have space to do so. Also, drivers should avoid getting boxed in, as this severely limits your options in case of a sudden need to stop or swerve.

Lastly, drivers should make sure that they are noticed and avoided on the road. While tractor-trailer drivers are rather large and easily noticed, they can be missed by inattentive drivers or in a crowded, multi-lane highway with merges and lane changes. Ways to ensure being seen include checking blind spots, using proper signals at all times and, as may be necessary, sounding your horn if you feel like you may be in a driver’s blind spot.

The Smith System Driver Improvement Institute offers individual training, as well as fleet analytics and safety sessions. For more information the Smith System, visit www.smith-system.com.