At NTB, we use the phrase “Think Safety” in everything we do. When it comes to truck driving safety, it’s important to learn how to put it into practice. As truck driving professionals, we have a responsibility to learn and apply every resource we can in order to reduce accidents and protect ourselves and our communities. Though we teach a variety of defensive driving skills in our training, we are more than familiar with the Smith System and encourage our employees to utilize these techniques.
Origins of the Smith System
Harold Smith was an operator of a landing craft in the United States Navy during World War II and he always had a passion for driving motor vehicles. During his service, he remembered seeing a billboard showing the statistics of unsafe driving and the lives lost every year. These fatalities were more than the casualties from the war. For Harold, that was enough to motivate him to find a solution that would minimize those numbers.
In 1952, Harold founded the Smith System Driver Improvement Institute to merge his passion for driving and desire to teach safe driving skills. He noted that most driving schools taught drivers only the mechanical operation of vehicles, as opposed to showing students how to drive safely and avoid accidents.
When Harold began to teach novice drivers how to safely drive, he observed that the mistakes people were consistently making behind the wheel were preventable. After fine-tuning his concepts, he broke them down into five key points to make them easier to understand and remember. After his success with beginner drivers, Harold knew his technique could benefit experienced drivers too.
5 Keys to the Smith System
The Smith System for driving focuses on reducing collisions, preventing injuries, and saving lives. These techniques are based on five principles that are designed to teach drivers to anticipate dangerous situations on the road. When we drive defensively and prepare for other drivers’ mistakes, traffic-related injuries decrease. All of these principles are relevant to truck driving safety and general road safety. The 5 Keys are:
With the practice of these principles, driving doesn’t have to be a series of last-second decisions that cause stress. Instead, you’ll be able to see problems well ahead and have plenty of time to react. In an interview with Benjamin Grulke, a driver at NTB, he states that drivers should “learn it, and live it” when it comes to the Smith System. Safety should be your number-one priority like it is ours. Next time you’re hitting the road, don’t forget your keys—the five keys to the Smith System!