SMILE: A simple strategy for saving lives


SMILE!  Saving lives on the road could be as simple as that.

We’re not talking about flashing your pearly whites at everyone on the road, but rather remembering five steps – matching those five letters – that could make America’s highways a whole lot safer.

The S is for Scan Ahead. That means keeping a lookout for possible hazards.

The M is for Maintain Your Lane. Unless you are using your turn signal, stay in your lane.

The I is for Increase Your Distance. No need for kissing the bumper of the next vehicle in line. Keep your distance and allow time to stop if something happens.

The L is for Lower Your Speed. As difficult as that may be, take it easy and avoid speeding.

The E is for Eliminate Distractions. Talking on the cell phone, applying makeup, reading the newspaper and texting all have something in common: They shouldn’t be done behind the steering well.

So remember to SMILE. It will make everyone a little happier.

Why SMILE?

No need to look farther than America’s highways for the answer to that question. There are bumps and bruises that happen every day that easily could have been avoided. So take a look below. Hopefully these numbers will give you an idea why it’s so important to SMILE.

(S)can Ahead – Inattentive driving contributes to 8 out of 10 crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

(M)aintain Your Lane – Fifty-eight percent of all fatal crashes share a common denominator: Improper lane departures. When it comes to total crashes, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that 483,000 could be avoided each year by keeping drivers in their lanes.

(I)ncrease Your Distance – The average driver brakes 50,000 times a year to avoid a rear-end collision.

(L)ower Your Speed –  Speeding is a factor in almost a third of all fatal crashes. But get this, most speeding-related fatalities happen on local roads with speed limits less than 55 mph, rather than on highways.

(E)liminate Distractions – Distracted driving contributes to about 8,000 crashes every day.

How to protect yourself:

DON’T: Stare at the road directly in front of your vehicle.

DO: Scan the road 10 to 15 seconds ahead of your vehicle so you can spot hazards early.

DON’T: Drive when you are feeling drowsy. Lane drifts cause hundreds of thousands of crashes a year.

DO: Use your turn signal and side-view mirrors when changing lanes.

DON’T: Tailgate the car in front of you.

DO: Relax. Leave about two seconds of distance between your car and the next.

DON’T: Get heavy-footed on the highway, even if you’re running a little late.

DO: Stay within 5 to 10 miles per hour of the posted speed limit.

DON’T: Put on makeup, talk on the phone, change clothes or text while driving.

DO: Pay attention to the reason you are on the road – to drive.

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