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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

"The West Coast's Premier Fleet Marine Force Training Base"

101 Critical Days of Summer – Week Two

By Public Affairs Office | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | June 3, 2015


Summer is approaching and it is important to keep the following safety guidelines in mind.

“Force preservation is our mission, and we need to make sure that all Marines and Sailors doing recreational activities are doing so safely,” said Gunnery Sgt. Monica Cervantes, base safety representative. “Troop welfare is the key to mission accomplishment, and supervision is what will make that happen.”

The 101 critical days of summer begins each year on Memorial Day weekend and ends after Labor Day. Within Camp Pendleton, temperatures can change drastically further away from the coast. This week’s guidelines focus on the five principles of driving safely.

The Smith System: Five Principles of Driving Safely

The Smith System of Defensive Driving is mentioned in recent guidelines released by the Camp Pendleton Base Safety Department. The system outlines rules that can dramatically reduce the risk of major accidents on highways and roads.

“The Smith system provides a lot of skill-based training with direct feedback from an instructor,” said Blaine Bromwell, traffic safety manager here. “We offer these practical courses on base when needed but the five principles summarize the biggest highlights from the course.”

1. Aim High

Drivers are encouraged to aim high when steering and to stay alert of the dangers and traffic ahead. This not only prevents rear-end collisions, but it also alerts other drivers behind to slow down. The driver should steer and focus their attention high, so as to view the road as whole and not just a few feet ahead.

2. The Big Picture

It is important to be aware of the surroundings while driving. Distracted drivers can be just as dangerous as intoxicated ones. Erratic and angry drivers take up a large portion of the traffic daily. it is important to recognize how other drivers behave on the road to avoid major accidents. Keen awareness of dangers on the road can reduce the risk of accident.

3. Keep Your Eyes Moving

The third standard of the Smith System asks drivers to remain alert. Consistent eye movement prevents a driver’s body from entering the trance state, keeping the driver aware of the driving conditions ahead of them.

4. Leave Yourself an Out

The fourth principle of the Smith System asks drivers to ensure that space for maneuvering is always available. Drivers must ensure that other vehicles do not box them in while selecting their lanes. Drivers are also advised not to follow other vehicles too closely, and to always anticipate what choices other drivers make.

5. Make Sure Other Drivers See You

The final rule for the Smith System is to make sure the driver is seen by other drivers. This rule prevents accidents by removing assumptions made behind the wheel. Drivers need to make sure that other drivers can see and anticipate their moves. If driving in a blind spot, use the horn to get other drivers’ attentions.

”In 2014, we lost 30 Marines to private motor vehicles,” said Bromwell. “Our number one asset is personnel and ultimately we have to get our Marines to the fight so we have to take care of them when they’re off-duty. That’s what all the training is for.”

For more information, please visit the base safety website at http://www.pendleton.marines.mil/StaffAgencies/SafetyCenter.aspx or contact the Commanding General’s Safety Hotline: (760)763-7233.