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SIPDE is an acronym which stands for the five processes that are central to safe driving according to its creator. Like the Smith System, SIPDE depends on you to use your eyes to be effective. What makes it different from the other method is that anticipation and decision-making also figure as keys in the process. The five steps for SIPDE are:

Search (or Scan) - The first step is to scan the road for potential hazards.

Identify - Next, identify what those hazards are.

Predict - Anticipate how these hazards will affect you.

Decide - Decide how you will act to avoid the hazards.

Execute - Choose a course of action and act on it.

 

The Smith System is a set of five "keys" aimed at making the task of driving safe for you. The five "keys" are:

Aim high in steering. The higher you look, the farther ahead you see. By looking farther ahead, you can see hazards and have time to respond to them. You should look as far ahead as possible in the distance, say about 20-30 seconds ahead. This is about 1-2 blocks in the city at normal, safe speeds and one-third to half a mile on the highway at speeds of up to 65 mph. If you only focus on the car ahead of you, you will not see upcoming hazards in time to react to them safely.

Get the big picture. Scan the entire scene, not just the roadway. This means the sides and behind you as well. You will be able to make better decisions when you are aware of what is going on around you. It is helpful particularly on the open highway and intersections, since danger can come from all sides.

Keep your eyes moving. To scan the entire scene, you need to keep your eyes moving. In addition, conditions on and off the road are constantly changing. Focusing on only one area means you will overlook hazards in others. Check your mirrors and turn your head to check on your blind spots before proceeding with any maneuver.

Leave yourself an out. If you are to get out of a trouble spot, you need an out. Make sure you have an escape route in case of an emergency by maintaining a space cushion around your vehicle. This means keeping the lane next to you clear so you can move there if the car ahead of you stops suddenly, for example. If you are boxed in, you will not be able to avoid another car swerving into you or drive around a hazard in the road.

Make sure others see you. Communicating with other drivers is vital on the road. If you signal your intention to change lanes, for example, other drivers will take note and respond to it. Crashes often occur because one of the drivers failed to see the other vehicle. Always make use of your turn signals and turn on your headlights when it is dark

 

Determining an Escape Route

As traffic conditions evolve, you must constantly adjust in order to avoid dangerous situations. However, scanning ahead helps to ensure that your path of travel is safe. This will allow you to spot potential hazards ahead and to adjust your speed or lane position as needed.

Slow down if your view ahead is blocked; you will not be able to adjust otherwise. When selecting a lane within traffic clusters to move into, look for gaps wide enough for you to maneuver into without forcing others to slow down.

As you scan the road, watch for any hazards or indications of them such as brake lights, cars slowing down, lane blockages, and vehicles going significantly faster or slower. Many of these may occur at the same time, so you'll need to be able to predict what may happen. If you spot potential hazards, adjust your speed and lane position to avoid them. Plan possible escape routes by anticipating gaps into which you can move safely to avoid dangerous situations.

Minimizing your risks often means making compromises. If there's a long line of cars approaching from the opposite direction, slow down, be prepared to brake, and move to the right. If an approaching vehicle drifts into your lane of travel, slow down and pull over to the right. Sound your horn and flash your lights to warn the driver. When approaching a curve, slow down before entering, and stay toward the right of the lane

 

Following Distance

You'll be in a better position to avoid crashes if you maintain the proper following distance and have a space cushion around your vehicle. Should the car ahead of you stop abruptly, you'll have one of two choices: stop or change lanes. Scanning ahead will help you know if it is safe for you to move into a lane to your left or right. At higher speeds, you'll need a larger space cushion. This cushion can be determined by following the two-second rule.

This rule allows you to see ahead of the vehicle in front of you and to keep a cushion or safe distance in the event of an emergency or unexpected traffic situation. This is the minimum recommended following distance, though in some circumstances that should be increased. To establish a two-second gap, select a fixed point on the road, such as a sign or tree. Wait for the vehicle ahead of you to pass that point, and then start counting "one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two." If you pass the fixed point before you finish your count, you are following too closely, so ease off the gas slightly.

A two-second cushion is not enough in certain situations. When that is the case, increase your following distance to at least three seconds, or better yet, four seconds.10 You should widen the gap between your car and the vehicle ahead when:

  • You are being tailgated. Establishing a larger cushion gives you more time to react and brake, thus allowing you to avoid a collision with the vehicle behind you.
  • Your vision of the road is obstructed, or visibility is poor. Increasing the following distance allows you to account for any surprises.
  • You are behind a large vehicle. When you can only see the vehicle's back in front of you, and not the road, you are too close. To see the road ahead, you need to make room by staying back a bit further.
  • Driving on slippery roads. It's more difficult to stop due to the reduced traction. You may have to increase the following distance to as much as 10 seconds when driving on icy roads.
  • Following motorcycles. You'll have to avoid hitting the rider, especially if the motorcycle falls.
  • The driver behind you wants to pass. Give him or her space to move into the lane.
  • You see a municipal bus, school bus, or other vehicle that makes frequent stops, such as at railroad crossings.
  • Road or weather conditions are poor. You'll need time to react should something unexpected occurs.
  • Traveling at high speeds. The faster you go, the longer it will take for you to stop.
  • Pulling a trailer or carrying a heavy load. The extra weight makes it more difficult to stop.
  • Merging onto a freeway. You need to give yourself and the car you pull in front of a space cushion.

In order to establish a safe following distance, you need to look ahead and around your vehicle as well as the one ahead of you. Check your mirrors, your speedometer, and the road often. Avoid focusing solely on the car in front, or any one thing, but keep your eyes moving. If you see something on the road or in your car, look when it's safe to do so after you check the road ahead

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