Defensive driving while heading on long journeys involves anticipating and being prepared for what other people on the road might do and how varying road conditions would affect the normal operation of vehicles.
Most defensive driving programs rely on two primary principles:
- Creating a buffer
- Increasing Driver Awareness
Training that revolves around these techniques is subject to variation and thus is open to various interpretations.
Defensive Driving Techniques For Road Safety
Considering the violation of laws and regulations, it is paramount that drivers adhere strictly to the rules and be cautious while driving down the lane.
Here are mentioned some of the best defensive driving that every truck driver must pay attention to before heading on yet another long journey –
- Keep Your Eyes Further Ahead
Professional driving coaches guide drivers to look at least 12 to 15 seconds ahead to conveniently scan for potential hazards and prognosticate where threats might occur.
Inculcating this habit would give you more time to observe, think, and act. The sooner you see a threat, the more time you would have to make a life-saving decision.
This is especially critical for drivers who drive large commercial fleet vehicles or heavy equipment that can’t react very swiftly in dire situations.
- Keep A Certain Following Gap
Building and maintaining a constant safe following distance is absolutely paramount while hitting the road.
The U.S. Department of Transportation strongly recommends drivers to maintain a minimum of four seconds of distance for commercial trucks that are traveling up to 40 mph for defensive driving (Source).
For every additional increment of 10 mph of speed, the DOT recommends increasing one second to the original gap.
- Leave yourself an Exit
Creating a physical buffer between yourself and the vehicle ahead of you is one instance of leaving yourself an exit. You can also build space to either the left or the right of your vehicle.
In case something unexpected happens, a defensive driver would try to maintain at least one of the above options so that he can maneuver out of harm’s way.
- Scan intersections Prior To Entering
Traffic lights draw the attention of almost any driver, so people often fixate on the light and not on the intersection.
Defensive drivers, on the other hand, are trained to scan their surroundings just after the light turns green and just prior to entering the intersection, to watch out for distracted pedestrians or car drivers.
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- Drive With Appropriate Pace
Drivers often set their speed at the mentioned speed limit, plus 5 mph. Defensive drivers always adjust their speed as per the specific conditions.
Road conditions, visibility, weather, traffic patterns, and if their vehicle is carrying a full load or is empty, all determine the defensive driver’s decision on how fast he should go.
In the end, decent visibility and the ability to maintain safe control of the truck should be the guiding principles to calculate the right speed.
Since there are so many variables, organizations, instead of setting absolute speed limits, must provide their drivers with a driver safety program that contains guidelines on how to make good driving decisions.
Drivers must realize that their first priority is safety. There must be an understanding that in bad weather, delivery times might need alteration without pressurizing the driver.
- Avoid having to back up.
Incidents that involve trucks backing up are a very common type of collisions. It’s way harder to drive backwards. You cannot properly see, and the steering relationship tends to be awkward.
Whenever possible, defensive drivers always avoid backing up. They pull through all the way to the front spot to exit forward, regardless of them having to choose a parking space that demands a few extra steps.
If you have to reverse your truck, be slow to give yourself a plethora of time to monitor the area around you.
To know the status of your vehicle on the road and receive updates in real-time in case an accident occurs, you must have a car tracking device installed in all of your fleet vehicles.
- Stay Alert and Engaged in Driving
While driving on long routes, minds tend to wander. To stay alert while on the road, actively keep checking out your surroundings or fellow drivers.
Try to recognize different driving patterns on the road and see whether you can correctly foretell their next move.
If you find it difficult to concentrate, this can be a really fun game to do. If a driver changes the lane from left to the right, can you anticipate their next turn? How fast should you be approaching them?
Asking yourself such questions on the road would help you stay alert and also amused.
Benefits of Defensive Driving
Defensive driving is an extremely effective way in which organizations can minimize worker injuries. Vehicle collisions are the primary cause of occupational injury.
In both 2015 and 2016, transportation accidents were the most common cause of fatalities at the workplace, accounting for about 40 percent of work-related deaths as per the U.S. Department of Labor (Source).
Many companies now have opted to invest in defensive-driving training as a way to help their workforce –
- Safeguard employees from vehicle-related injuries and ensure workers’ safety.
- Minimize collisions.
- Reduce claims costs, such as workers’ compensation claims.
- Manage insurance premiums.
- Protect their company’s reputation via safe-driving behaviors
Since defensive driving involves techniques that are meant to drive smoothly, there’s also minimized wear and tear on vehicle engines and brakes, as-well-as minimal chance of passenger falls.
A study was conducted to determine the ROI on defensive training, which concluded that organizations could extract a greater ROI by supplementing the online courses.
Implementing a video-based coaching program that rewards defensive driving behaviors would most certainly boost the ROI to an approximation of 5 to 1 (Source).
With increased traffic violence and chaos on the road, the truck drivers need to be extra cautious while driving your fleet as the last thing you would want is the driver getting injured and your fleet sustaining damage.
Thus, it is important that all truck drivers follow the above-mentioned set of protocols and adhere to them sincerely to avoid any mishaps and deliver goods swiftly and in one piece.