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Traffic Light Decision Making. During your time in the outdoors you will encounter dangers; this is a certainty! It is essential that you develop the skill to recognize that the situation you are in is dangerous and could lead to injury or death.

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traffic light decision making
Traffic Light Decision Making
  • During your time in the outdoors you will encounter dangers; this is a certainty!
  • It is essential that you develop the skill to recognize that the situation you are in is dangerous and could lead to injury or death.
  • This presentation is designed to introduce you to hazards, accidents and how we can use the “Traffic Light Decision Making Model” to help us make safe decision when we are in the outdoors.
lets look at some situations you will encounter at glengarry can you identify the hazard
Lets look at some situations you will encounter at Glengarry: Can you identify the hazard?







accident potential
Accident Potential

Environmental Dangers

  • Environmental dangers are always in the bush. It is only when we venture into situations that we don’t recognise as being dangerous that the potential for an accident increases.

Human Dangers

Environmental Dangers

Lack of awareness

Lack of skill

Lack of concentration


Breaking Rules

Slippery Trail





accident potential4
Accident Potential

Human Dangers

Environmental Dangers

Accident Potential

How could the conditions change to make this crossing safe one day but dangerous the next

What can you do during a trip to be on the look out for situations that may be dangerous?

When humans begin to interact with environmental dangers and their awareness level is low, the potential for an accident increases. We must be constantly on the lookout for dangers.

environmental human hazard
Environmental & Human Hazard
  • Let us look at the photo opposite. Can you brainstorm a list of the:
  • Environmental Hazards that could possibly lead to some kind of near miss or accident occurring? IE) What things are around this cliff that could lead to an accident?
  • Human Hazards: What choices made by this human, could lead to this accident occurring?
potential for accidents increases as you encounter more hazards and you make judgement mistakes
Potential for accidents increases as you encounter more hazards and you make judgement mistakes
  • On a hike, if you encounter the following what do you think would happen to the probability of an accident occurring?
    • You are tired, dehydrated, hungry.
    • A storm hit and the track is wet, slippery, there is lightning about.
    • You are in a hurry to get home for an important family dinner.
    • You become shivering cold as you forgot your raincoat.
    • The river you crossed yesterday has risen dramatically because of the storm run off.

You must recognise these hazards & that the possibility of an accident occurring IS INCREASING. The Traffic Light System can help make a safe decision!

traffic light risk assessment tool
Traffic Light Risk Assessment Tool

A model for evaluating situations that appear dangerous

  • Red Light
    • Real danger is present & to proceed could result in death or serious injury
  • Yellow Light
    • Some danger is present but with care or the modification of risk you may be able to proceed
  • Green Light
    • Evaluation of risk determined it is safe to proceed
how do you recognise that danger is present
How Do You Recognise That Danger Is Present?
  • Gut Feeling: Have any of you ever experienced a sensation that something just does not feel right? You sense danger?
    • Vertigo near a cliff edge.
    • Riding too fast down a hill on your bike or skate board.
    • Going out in the surf on a day it was just too big.
  • What kind of feelings, thoughts or sensations were sounding a warning in your thinking?
  • Lets share some other examples from people’s lives. Have you had a gut feeling that something is not safe!
what should you do if you get this feeling that you are in danger or things are not safe
What Should You Do If You Get This Feeling That You Are In Danger, Or Things Are Not Safe?
  • The first thing you and your group should do is STOP.
  • By stopping you are remaining safe.
  • This allows you time to THINK about the consequences of going further.
  • If a teacher is nearby or you have a radio, use these resources for advice.
  • If you are on your own or with other students the following steps should be followed!
list your concerns in your field journal
List Your Concerns In Your Field Journal
  • Make a list of the things that you are identifying as being a concern to you or the groups safety.
  • Next to each hazard or concern you now need to rate each one with regard to the consequence of something going wrong.
  • This is done by giving each hazard a traffic light colour.
  • A decision is then made regarding what to do.
  • You can do one of the following three things.
using traffic light colours to make safer decisions
Using Traffic Light Colours To Make Safer Decisions
  • If there is any threat to any one’s life or the risk of serious injury, you would give the hazard a RED light.
    • This means that you AVOID the danger at all cost.
  • If you can see a possibility of proceeding through a means of reducing the danger, you would give the hazard a Yellow light.
    • This means you would do something to reduce the danger: EG: Use a rope to descend a steep slope, or link arms with group members to cross a fast flowing creek.
  • If you have discussed the hazard and consider it safe to proceed, you would rate it a Green Light.
example of how we might use traffic lights
Example Of How We Might Use Traffic Lights
  • You are sitting on your bike at the top of the Glengarry drive.
  • Your mate says to you, “lets go as fast as we can without using brakes and see how fast we can go”.
  • Your gut feeling is sounding a warning. “I am not sure about this”.
  • The first thing you should do is STOP.
  • Then begin by mentally listing the hazards that exist in such a venture!
  • Lets brainstorm what hazards there are and rate them with a Traffic Light Colour.
rating each hazard
Rating Each Hazard

Any time you rate any hazard aREDyouMUST NOTcontinue as the potential to be killed or severely injured isVERY HIGH.

caution this model can go wrong if
CAUTION: This model can go wrong if!
  • You Fail To Concentrate
    • Never let your guard down. Be constantly scanning your surroundings for dangers. Keep checking on “your gut feeling”. Ask the “What If” question. “What If I proceed, what could happen to me?”
  • You Smell The Barn
    • What does a horse often do when you turn him around and head for home?
    • He takes off throwing all caution to the wind.
    • Accident statistics tell us that near the completion of a trip, groups begin to sense the trip is nearly over. They start to rush, let their concentration down and fail to observe and evaluate dangers.
    • Do NOT Rush! Be careful and deliberate right until the end of the trip!
caution this model can go wrong if17
CAUTION: This model can go wrong if!
  • The Risk Shifts
    • Among teenage boys this phenomenon is something that could lead to a serious accident.
    • Some inexperienced group members who are loud and dominant in personality, and have poor judgement about safety, can often influence groups to do something dangerous and silly. “I reckon we can all climb that cliff, we won’t fall”.
    • The quiet introverted person may sense a gut feeling that something is wrong but may not speak up. “This just does not feel right, a fall from there and I’m dead, but I don’t want to look like a wimp in front these guys”.

What should you do if a dominate group member is trying to force an unsafe decision on you?

caution this model can go wrong if18
CAUTION: This model can go wrong if!
  • You Have Poor Judgement
    • You can only use this model successfully if you honestly speak up and share your ideas about your safety concerns.
    • Glengarry staff will train you in this model initially teaching you how to use it to make safe decisions. We help build your judgement about what is safe and what is dangerous.
    • If you do not recognise that something is dangerous, you may miss important clues that an accidents is about to occur.
    • As the semester progresses you will be asked to demonstrate the use of the Traffic Light System for assessing dangers.
transferability to other areas in your life
Transferability To Other Areas In Your Life
  • Traffic Light Decision Making can be used in all kinds of situations in life.
  • Learn to use it now, then you have a tool to use for life!

Oh, I love you, lets have unsafe sex?

Should I take this Ice Tablet, nothing will happen to me?

No that is a RED Light!

To decide whether to drink and drive?

Go on mate I have injected drugs before?

To decide whether to speed in your car?

Should I ride without my helmet?

identify hazards in this photo
Identify Hazards in This Photo

What would you do to decrease the risk of losing an eye?

identify hazards in this photo21
Identify Hazards in This Photo

What would you do to decrease the risk of getting Gardia?

identify hazards in this photo22
Identify Hazards in This Photo

What would you do to ensure a safe campfire?

group work accident scenario analysis
Group Work: Accident Scenario Analysis
  • Lets now split up into groups of 4!
  • Each group will be given a scenario outlining a set of circumstances that has lead to an accident in real life.
  • Your job is to analyse these circumstances and…
  • Firstly make a list of the …
    • Environmental Hazards
    • Human Hazards involved
  • Then utilise the traffic light tool to rate each hazard you identified based on the rating scheme that was discussed earlier.

Click to obtain a

Student recording

Sheet for this


any question about the traffic light model
Any Question About The Traffic Light Model?
  • Summary:
  • If in doubt STOP what you are doing.
  • Use Traffic Light Model to guide your actions.
  • Always err to the safest possible action.
  • If unsure don’t do it.
  • Any Questions or Comments?