Tips to help make driving safer: lessons learned from the cockpit

One of the many things that we could learn from the strict pilots training and discipline which is taught during the pilots’ crew resource management (CRM) training program is the subject called situational awareness. Apart from applying the lessons learned here in our daily life, we can also use the situational awareness concept in management training, as well as safety training. In this post I will relate it to something that we do everyday in our life, which is driving our car.

How many of us are aware of our surrounding such as the condition of the roads, the driving style of other drivers, while driving? Even the prevailing weather such as the presence of strong winds and rain could have an influence on our driving. And how many more are aware of the state of our vehicles before we set off on our journey?

Well to be able to apply this concept to help make driving safer, let me explain what situational awareness is.

Situational awareness is about knowing our position with regards to the environment, that is to say our orientation with the surrounding and how the state of our surrounding could affect what we are doing. In aviation we call this spatial orientation.

Pilots do this all the time, before and during the flight. As part of pre-flight preparation, they study the weather maps looking for weather activities enroute and the forecast weather at destination as they could and would affect the flight. When they arrive at the aircraft, they will do a general walk around the aircraft and go through the log books to determine unserviceable items. During flight they would keep on monitoring the weather patterns on route as well as the weather trend at destination.

Apart from being aware of the weather trend, pilots stay alert and take cognizance of other aircrafts in the vicinity, how far the other aircrafts are and how high they are from them. Pilots will also review the enroute charts and take note of the height of the terrain that the aircraft is flying over. A high level of situational awareness is important for a safer flight operation.

The above concept could be used before we set of on our journey and to make driving safer as follows:

Before the journey:

  • Check the conditions of the vehicle such as the tires, radiator, brake and transmission fluid and any unserviceable items.
  • Check the forecast weather and take note of weather phenomena such as thunderstorms, rain and strong winds.
  • Find out as much information as possible on the conditions of the roads.

While driving:

  • Be aware of the conditions of the road especially the road surface as this could affect braking action.
  • Be aware of the presence of other vehicles, in particular the drivers’ driving styles.
  • Look out for signs of strong cross winds, and lastly,
  • Be aware of our physical and physiological state.

Written by Azharuddin Osman

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