These foundational habits are vital for keeping your delivery drivers—and the community—safe. 

Restaurant Delivery Driver Safety

Seventy years ago, a man named Harold Smith founded the country’s first professional driver training company, Smith System. Smith System’s most famous creation is the Smith5Keys®, also called the “five seeing habits.”

These five habits are perhaps the most important tactics a person can use to stay safe while driving. Many major companies, including UPS, use these as the foundation of their driver training curriculum.

As an RDS owner, you can teach this valuable framework to your delivery drivers. Of course, the primary benefit to these critical skills is keeping your delivery drivers—and others—safe. But there are additional benefits as well, such as keeping your insurance premiums low and protecting your brand’s reputation. If a car with your logo gets in an accident, there may be repercussions.

Here is a brief guide to the five seeing habits for food delivery drivers:

1. Aim high while steering.

Some drivers have a habit of only paying attention to what’s right in front of them. It’s certainly important to keep an eye on your immediate surroundings. But never looking farther ahead means a driver may not have much time to react to unexpected situations.

As a rule of thumb, drivers should always be aware of where they’ll be in about 15 seconds. This makes it much easier for them to slow down and stop when necessary. The 15-second rule creates a vital margin of safety, allowing drivers more time to hit the brakes or execute a turn. This is especially important for delivery drivers, who are often driving through busy parts of towns with lots of foot traffic.

Aiming high offers an additional benefit for delivery drivers. Sometimes, there will only be one or two parking spaces within walking distance of a restaurant or a customer’s home. A driver who’s looking ahead can nab them without having to slam on the brakes.

2. Get the big picture.

Looking ahead is important while driving, but cars are surrounded on all sides by other cars, people, bicycles, and more. Drivers should maintain awareness of what’s happening beside them and behind them as well. Smith System recommends that drivers check their rearview or side mirrors every five to eight seconds.

As previously mentioned, delivery drivers spend a lot of time in busy areas. They can keep themselves and everyone else safe by keeping tabs on what’s going on around them.

3. Keep your eyes moving.

For a bad example of the five seeing habits, look no further than the movies. In most big-screen driving scenes, the actor behind the world barely moves his or her eyes while “on the road.” 

This is the opposite of what Smith System recommends for off-screen driving. A driver who focuses on one item for too long is bound to miss things. Instead, delivery drivers should move their eyes every few seconds and do everything they can to avoid distraction. And, move eyes front, eyes ahead of car or ahead of your vehicle.

Bonus: Eye activity stimulates brain activity, which can stave off the effects of fatigue.

4. Leave yourself an out.

It can be tempting to drive in the thick of dense traffic for the sake of gaining a few extra seconds. But it’s much safer to avoid large clusters of cars and stick to clearer areas and leave space on all four sides. Expect the unexpected. Delivery drivers should avoid getting trapped or hemmed in by other cars. In the words of Smith Systems, “Surround your vehicle with space” which helps find a safe path or escape route if needed.

5. Make sure they see you.

Most cars are equipped with multiple mechanisms for alerting other drivers to your presence. If delivery drivers aren’t confident that another driver sees them, they should do everything they can to change that. Headlights, turn signals, hazards, and horns are vital tools for communicating with other drivers and avoiding dangerous situations.

Knowledge of the five seeing habits can make a meaningful difference in restaurant delivery driver safety. When your RDS is taking active steps to ensure safe driving, you are keeping your community safe. Once you arrive safely, you want to be on your game, prepared to handle even the most difficult customers.