J. Murphy Firm are auto accident attorneys in Pittsburgh. We offer free consultations and free legal advice on all types of personal injury matters from whiplash up to wrongful death. We enjoy getting people good settlements and getting people out of limited tort insurance. As personal injury lawyers, we see a lot of people getting very badly hurt in automobile accidents. When possible, we like to give something back to our community by passing on tips to avoid needing us in the first place.

Commercial Vehicle Accidents are among the most costly. Commercial Vehicle Accidents involve heavier vehicles which sometimes carry dangerous cargo and are among the highest of all auto accident settlements. Because of this, commercial drivers are trained to a higher standard than your everyday drivers. In fact, a commercial driver’s license, or CDL, is an entirely separate license required to drive commercial vehicles.

One of the techniques that commercial drivers are trained to use is the “Smith System.” The Smith System is five simple rules which, if followed, can drastically cut the likelihood of being in an accident.

The Smith System owes its name to Harold Smith, who was a World War II veteran that had served as a landing craft operator. After the war, Smith saw a billboard urging drivers to be safe and pointing out the number of fatalities that occur because of auto accidents.

He noticed that there were more people being killed in auto accidents than there were killed in the war. This motivated him to invent, publicize and promote what is now known as…


1. Aim High

The first rule for this method is “Aim high in steering.” Staying alert of the dangers and traffic ahead not only avoids rear-end collisions but also can alert other drivers behind your vehicle to slow down. The driver should steer and focus their attention high, so as to view the road as a whole and not just the next few feet ahead.

2. The Big Picture

“Be aware of your surroundings at all times” may seem obvious to say, but distracted drivers are just as dangerous as intoxicated ones. Erratic and angry drivers take up a large portion of the traffic we see daily, so avoid major accidents by noticing how other drivers behave on the road. Having the whole picture means that you are doing your part to keep your vehicle as safe as possible while moving 100 ft a second. There are a variety of hazards between your own vehicle and other drivers, and a keen awareness of these dangers will reduce these risks.

3. Keep Your Eyes Moving

The third standard of the Smith System asks drivers to remain alert. Energy drinks can only do so much before they cause the body to crash, and any repetitive motion sends us into a trance. Consistent eye movement prevents your body from entering the trance state, keeping you alert to every driving condition ahead of you.

4. Leave Yourself an Out

The fourth principle of the Smith System states to leave yourself a way out. This means to ensure that other drivers do not box you in while selecting their lanes. Do not follow other vehicles too closely, and always anticipate what choices other drivers make.

5. Make Sure They See You

The worst thing a driver can do is assume. Assume other drivers can see them, assume other drivers are not dangerous or even assume that they will just get to their destination safely. The final rule for the Smith System is to “Make Sure You Are Seen”. This rule prevents accidents by removing assumptions made behind the wheel. As a driver, make sure that other drivers can see you and anticipate your movements. If you feel you are coming into another driver’s blind spot, use the horn to get their attention.