Toolbox Talk Topic: Driver Safety
A car is a personal vehicle or a private passenger vehicle with a weight of six thousand pounds or less – so think of a 4-door car, minivan, or SUV.
A Commercial Vehicle is a company vehicle like a work truck or service truck that can weigh anywhere from 6 to 20K pounds.
We won’t talk about big rigs, often called tractor-trailers or 18 wheelers. That is for a different discussion.
There are all kinds of fun stories about the automobile. It seems every year, another book or movie is released detailing some little corner of automotive history no one has ever heard about. In this episode, we will talk about a story in automotive history I’m pretty sure you have never heard about. We will talk about HENRY FORD – The man with no middle name! It’s true; look it up!
The Invention of the Motor Car
Before we go to Hank, the year was 1886, and German inventor Karl Benz patented his Benz Motorwagen. It would take 22 years for cars to become widely available. This modern marvel was The Model T, manufactured by the Ford Motor Company in 1908.
But the Model T almost didn’t happen.
In 1903 A group of carmakers formed a licensing cartel called the ALAM (Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers). The group claimed that the 1895 Selden patent, which it just so happens they owned, covered all gasoline-powered vehicles. The association was supposedly set up to protect the public from “unreliable upstarts” and “fly-by-nights”
Henry Ford was one of those “unreliable upstarts.” Ford already had one failed automobile company and left another before convincing some investors to back him a third time.
He applied for a license twice and was denied, so he sold his cars anyway. Then the ALAM attacked him in newspapers and filed lawsuits to force him out of business.
There was a significant problem with the Selden patent, however. No no one could build a working automobile to its specifications. Ford hadn’t used any part of the Seldon patent to build his car and of the three hundred plus men developing automobiles, they hadn’t borrowed anything from the Selden patent either.
Several manufacturers went along and accepted the ALAM’s terms but others declined, waiting to see what the courts would decide.
The Court Battle
The Selden patent case came to trial in 1909, and the judge, shockingly, ruled in favor of the ALAM. The ruling was a massive setback for Ford and the independent auto manufacturers.
Most gave up, including Bill Durant, the founder of General Motors. He joined the Association and paid $1 million dollars in back royalties.
For most people, it was over, but not Henry Ford.
His legal team filed an appeal. In 1911, a three-judge federal appeals court ruled that the Selden patent was valid, but only for automobiles made to its specifications, of which none were in existence. The result was that the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers’ demands for royalties were invalid.
There are approximately 276 million vehicles operating on America’s roads. By some estimates, US drivers make 186 billion driving trips, drive 2.62 trillion miles, and spend 70 billion hours driving. (Source: https://driving-tests.org/driving-statistics/)
Tailgating is a contributing factor in more than one-third of all crashes. (TeenSafe, 2018) (https://driving-tests.org/driving-statistics/)
Rear-end crashes are the most frequently occurring type of accident, accounting for approximately 29% of all crashes. (nhtsa.gov/document/analyses-rear-end-crashes-and-near-crashes-100-car-naturalistic-driving-study-support-rear)
Driver-related factors (i.e., error, impairment, fatigue, and distraction) were present in almost 90% of car crashes. (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, 2016) (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/295673760_Driver_crash_risk_factors_and_prevalence_evaluation_using_naturalistic_driving_data#read)
In 2010, the economic cost of motor vehicle crashes to the United States totaled $242 billion, equaling 1.6% of the real US Gross Domestic Product in 2010. ( (Source: https://driving-tests.org/driving-statistics/)
Nearly 2 million drivers experience permanent injuries every year. (Driver Knowledge, 2019)
In 2018 there were over 36,000 highway deaths (https://www.nhtsa.gov/traffic-deaths-decreased-2018-still-36560-people-died)
Safe Driving Tips for Employees
Complete a pre-trip inspection, always walk around the vehicle, and complete a visual inspection, ensure that everything appears to be ok. Check the tires, look for leaks, are the windows dirty?
Inside the vehicle, adjust your seat and mirrors, try to ensure maximum visibility and minimum fatigue. Make sure all your lights function. And, of course, buckle up!
If you drive a truck or other commercial vehicle to haul products, be sure to secure any loose items.
When driving, stay alert, look in front and behind you, use your mirrors, and be aware of what is happening several car lengths ahead.
Be careful of blindspots. Physically turn your head to check before changing lanes.
Following too Close
Don’t follow too closely, and avoid remaining too close to vehicles beside you. Give yourself room if you have to react suddenly.
When you come to a stop and there is a vehicle in front of you, maintain an adequate distance. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t see their tires, you are too close.
Wait to accelerate
Wait at least 3 seconds before you start to give the motorist in front of you time and adequate space.
When backing up or parking, take extra precautions. If you are not familiar with the site, then get out and look. Make sure you have adequate clearance so you don’t run into or over something.
If you are in a work vehicle, report all incidents immediately. Some employers will make not reporting an accident a termination offense. So, let’s all keep our jobs!