Driving is one of the most hazardous tasks that we perform when assigned to fires. Because of the fact that we perform the task literally hundreds of times in the course of our daily lives, we tend to take it for granted. Vehicle operators need to recognize their own poor driving habits and strive to develop proper defensive driving techniques.
A good starting point is attitude. A positive attitude toward improving your defensive driving skills will help you achieve the necessary changes in your driving habits. Most of what you do in operating vehicles is performed from habit. You do not consciously think about every thing you do when you drive. Rather, your subconscious performs most techniques. It's important to remember that a bad habit is as easy to develop as a good one. Take a good, hard look at your driving habits. Are you training yourself to do the right things the right way, like fastening your seat belt, checking your mirrors, and maintaining safe following distances?
Because driving is such a common component of our lives, it is difficult to realize that it requires 100 percent of our attention. Since the average adult attention span is 15-20 minutes, we must develop techniques that allow us to refocus our attention on the task at hand, operating a motor vehicle safely. There are many forms of inattentive driving; fatigue, telematics, daydreaming, eating, drinking, reading, writing, and talking.
Safe driving starts with a safe vehicle. While mechanical failure is rarely a contributing factor in motor vehicle accidents something as simple as under inflated tires can have serious consequences. Before operating any vehicle, you must be sure the vehicle is in safe operating condition. Not only should you perform a pre-operation inspection, some vehicle defects can only be detected while the vehicle is operating. The vehicle operator is also responsible pre-operation, during operation, and post-operation inspections.
For more safety tips from the Federal Fire and Aviation Safety Team, visit its Six Minutes for Safety section at www.nifc.gov.