The Only Task From Here To There Is Driving

There were two young men on a hiking trip, traveling across the fields, climbing the fences, and walking through the woods.

After hiking for quite some time, they decided to rest a while. However, standing in a clearing on his back two legs was a large grizzly bear. The bear started running straight at them.

The two young men turned and started running as fast as they could go back across the fields; but this time they were jumping over the fences.

One of the young men took his backpack off, threw it on the ground, pulled out his sneakers, and started to put them on.

The other fellow looked down at him kind of laughing and said, “You fool; you know you can’t out run the bear.”

The young man on the ground looked up at him and said, “It’s not the bear that I have to outrun. All I have to do is
out run you.”

Many people over the years have developed the same type of attitude as the man in the story.

They feel that their only job is to look after themselves, and teamwork is totally out of the picture.

In any safety sensitive environment, it is critical that each team member consider the safety and wellbeing of everyone. No one wants to see another coworker injured or worse on the job.

When people look at safety like the person in the bear chase story- “All I have to do is outrun you” they are basically placing their own safety and lives above all others. No matter what type of potentially unsafe environment people are in, when an individual believes that their own wellbeing is more important than others, they have become part of the unsafe conditions and are a danger to others. Working together with others can be stressful and at times-even unpleasant, but watching out for each other’s back is the number one priority.

The same concept applies to all who are out driving on our public roads and highways. I have talked to thousands of drivers over the last ten plus years of my life in my capacity of being a professional truck driver instructor and tester, and making hundreds of classroom presentations. I have always asked the groups this question: “Whose safety are we responsible for when we are out driving any vehicle on the road?” The answers are mixed. A lot of people will respond with “my own” while others will say “everyone’s” which is of course the correct answer.

Just as in the bear chase story, those who honestly believe that they are only responsible for their own safety are placing the importance of themselves over others.

If all drivers went out with this attitude, there would be total mayhem and destruction as each individual would be “looking out for themselves’ and not paying attention to and looking out for all the other drivers that they encounter.

“Watch Out For The Other Guy” was a catch phrase used back in the mid 60’s by Frederick “Sandy” Sulcer.

Sulcer described the other guy theme and how it tried to improve awareness that other drivers were usually "nice, well-meaning people": “The other guy is not always the lane-hugging, road-burning, tire-squealing menace.” ~ Sandy Sulcer, 1966. He started this campaign to promote safety and tolerance of others while out driving.

There is something about getting in a vehicle-surrounded by steel and glass, that can take a perfectly nice person in a normal social setting and turn them into a self-involved individual isolated from all others who are out for themselves forsaking safety and consideration just to get to their destination. When this happens, it is the same as the young man in the bear chasing story who says “All I have to outrun is you”.

In this fast paced world, people are trying to get things done and cutting corners by multitasking (there is no such thing by the way) and ignoring other people and in many cases endangering them by their lack of caring and compromising safe driving for the sake of getting their own stuff done.

“Watch Out For The Other Guy” can save your life and the lives of others. In my position as a safety professional, I have heard hundreds of stories of tragic outcomes for people that could have been avoided by a simple act of courtesy, using a turn single (What!? They still put those in vehicles!?) letting someone merge instead of cutting them off, slowing down, not tailgating, not texting,-the list goes on and on.

When people's individuality and own concerns while driving become more important than the safety of others, they are part of the problem not part of the solution. In our haste to do more-be more, our fast paced society is becoming its own safety problem.

Maybe instead, we should do better-be better while driving by remembering the fact that everyone’s safety is our concern.