Late morning Sunday we were driving in an area of Atlanta we were not familiar with. We had a general sense of where our destination was, and so we were not inclined to use the GPS. When we got near our destination, I began to realize the final navigation might be harder than I thought due to one way streets and highway exits and entrances. So my wife got the unit out of the glovebox, and entered the cross streets we were looking for. As she was doing this, I got too involved in trying to figure out how to get the GPS set up. I failed to notice a red light ahead until I was nearly in the intersection. We stopped just short of the actual cross lane, and no one had to swerve to avoid us. We just had a scare, and I am now thankful for modern braking systems.
In my industrial experience, that is a clear near miss, and should be documented for the learning. History has shown us that if the population of near miss incidents grows, then eventually you have a serious injury or property damage. This incident was significant to me because it foreshadows something more serious if I don’t correct the root cause. My estimation is that the root cause is that I have fallen into more of an automatic mode in driving my car. I am willing to divert my focus for moments at a time because everything looks fine.
The corrective action is clear. In this case, set up the GPS before you leave. It’s easy to do and is correct the majority of the time. Fooling with it while driving is a potential problem. The other corrective action is to let the passenger work on non-driving tasks, and dedicate my energy and focus to the task of operating the motor vehicle within the rules of the road.
Have you had a near miss recently? Did you make a note of the root cause and think about a permanent fix? It will greatly reduce your likelihood of injury and may even save your life!
As always, and I need to heed my own advice here, let’s be careful out there.