What is it going to take?

  • Published
  • By 72nd Air Base Wing
  • Safety Office
Here are two acronyms you may be familiar with: SEE and SEE.

The first one describes a method of looking at the environment while driving -- Search, Evaluate and Execute. This driving strategy requires you to pay attention to what's going on around you. Aggressively searching for things that can hurt you is really important. Once you identify the things that can hurt you, you need to evaluate what you're going to do about them. Then executing your decision can be as simple as slowing down, speeding up or whatever is required to ensure you negotiate with other traffic safely.

The second SEE describes a Significant Emotional Event. This is usually what happens when the first SEE fails. It's something that changes your life, like the loss of a loved one, winning the lottery or being seriously injured in a car crash.

Have you ever been involved in a situation like this? You are driving along the freeway in an unfamiliar area. You are scanning and notice (a little late) the exit you are looking for. Without turning your head and checking the blind spot on your right, you quickly merge and attempt to make the exit. Without warning or provoking, a loud blaring horn gets your attention and you end up missing your exit. Next thing you know, this weird guy is shaking his fist at you and screaming inside his car, indicating he wants you to pull over.

What is your first reaction?

Whether you want it to or not, your heart starts racing (fight or flight reflex) and you start thinking about what you are going to do. Your first response is important. Pulling over and discussing the issue is probably not your best bet, as both his and your emotions are currently way out of whack. Find a public place with a lot of people, preferably a police or fire station (in rural areas, ensure the fire station is manned) before you pull over to discuss the issue. Calm heads will prevail if you both think of what happened and discuss it calmly.

This Significant Emotional Event has hopefully taught you the first SEE (Search, Evaluate, Execute) is really important while driving. But it takes practice and persistence. You have to think about driving. When was the last time you realized you are in control of a 3,500 pound vehicle covering about 100 feet per second at just 60 miles per hour. Most of us just get in our cars and go. Distractions are everywhere. Cell phones, iPods and other electronic equipment are the tip of the iceberg. Remember when you were placing the 44-ounce drink cup into the cup holder and you missed, resulting in all of that soda being all over the floor? How about talking with your passenger or dealing with kids in the back seat? Where is your attention? Remember that 3,500 pound vehicle you are controlling?

Driving takes attention. One moment of inattention, whether looking for an exit and not making a head check or doing something inside the car, can be the start of a Significant Emotional Event. Make it a good one by paying attention to driving.