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Building in a Safety Margin

Most of us expect a reasonable margin of safety in our lives, especially if what we are involved in is only partially under or is beyond our control. Woe to anyone who would presume to reduce this margin without our knowledge and consent! Why then is it acceptable to minimize or disregard this for both ourselves and others when we get behind the wheel?

In my view, reasonable speed is the first casualty when it comes to safety margins. Most drivers on the roads today seem to be quite content to drive nearer to the edge of control rather than choose a more moderate speed for the conditions we drive in. Darkness or poor weather seldom seems to bring about a speed reduction unless we are forced to slow by congestion or near loss of control.

Failing to leave a space cushion around our vehicle, front, rear and sides, is probably almost as common. This dynamic task is never ending, especially when traffic is congested. Managing this space wisely gives you both the time and place to react if you or someone else makes a mistake or willfully disobeys safe driving practices.

Do you come to a full stop at intersections, then carefully scan and process what is going on around you before you decide to proceed? No one likes to waste time, but if you are going to pause for a few seconds, this is probably the place to do it. Intersections are places of conflict by their very nature and deserve careful consideration.

Have you ever stopped to wonder why we are seeing safety systems on new vehicles that take over the task of maintaining a margin of safety for us? Is it necessary that our vehicles have to watch over us and force us not to make a bad decision? It is another way of increasing our safety margin...

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