One of the best ways to keep your commercial truck insurance as low as possible is to maintain a focus and control your fleet’s safety through defensive driving.
Accidents may be waiting around every corner, but the proper defensive driving training can aid in keeping your drivers avoid incidents. Even a truck driver who has been on the road for years can benefit from an updated safety training course and having defensive driving resources ready at his disposal.
According to the National Safety Council and the American Society of Safety Engineers, defensive driving or a defensive driver is defined as driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.
Training your driver with safety defensive driving by letting him take driver training courses is one of the greatest ways to reduce the number of accidents your fleet sees each year as well as lowering your overall insurance prices.
You can register for different drivers’ defensive driving courses, programs, and services offered by organizations using various safety techniques and training.
Here are four tips that surely work when it comes to defensive driving for trucks and truck drivers.
Defensive Driving Techniques for Truck Drivers
When professional defensive driving coaches teach courses and training techniques, they recommend drivers to look at least 12 to 15 seconds ahead. This can help you scan for potential hazards and oncoming threats with enough time to take action.
The further that you scan road conditions, the more time you give yourself to react, which is critical in larger semi-trucks that require a longer period to maneuver or stop.
Part of looking ahead is to leave yourself plenty of distance between your truck and the vehicle in front of you. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recommends leaving at least four seconds of distance between vehicles when traveling up to 40 miles per hour.
Add a second for every additional ten miles per hour to your speed after that. Leaving this kind of space on vehicles allows you to safely navigate traffic while giving you enough juncture to stop when needed.
Another element to defensive driving techniques like scanning ahead is that you can provide yourself an out. You have an out when you have at least one option to lean away from harm.
For example, you might work to ensure you have space to your left or right — whether it’s another lane or the road’s shoulder — to avoid other vehicles coming your way.
Finally, always ensure to scan intersections before entering, this is considered one of the most crucial driving tips. It’s easy to get fixated on the light, but our attention needs to stay on the road. Just because the light turns green doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe to proceed.
Have you ever accidentally tried to run on a yellow light, but it turns red before you pass through the intersection? Having awareness of distracted pedestrians or a vehicle may lessen hazardous driving at the intersection,
Maintain the Appropriate Speed
It may be tempting to set your cruise control at the speed limit. Some truck drivers will even try to stay five miles per hour above the posted limit. While striving to stay at the speed limit is acceptable at times, it’s not the ultimate rule.
Road conditions, weather, visibility, traffic patterns, the size of your truck’s cargo load, and tons of other factors should play into determining the right speed for your trip to keep your safety while on course. Wet or icy roads, for example, can increase stopping time, especially when you’re weighed down with cargo.
Instead of focusing on a defensive driving course that sets limits to speed, organizations should focus on defensive driver safety training programs that promote making good decisions based on the conditions of the hazardous road.
Defensive drivers in the trucking industry need to be aware that the company’s policy is safety above all. This should always be included in the defensive driving safety training course or program.
Curves and exit/entrance ramps are other areas where the appropriate speed may be lower than the posted limit. The speed limit signs posted on large curves are intended for passenger cars, so truck drivers should slow down to maintain control.
Defensive truck drivers also reduce their speed before entering or exiting a highway ramp. Drivers who don’t heed this information are more likely to cause a transportation-related accident, roll their truck, or risk injury.
There are other areas where the appropriate speed isn’t necessarily what’s posted and work zones are prime examples. Ensure you drive and merge into the correct lane properly and maintain your awareness to see where hazardous works are located.
Defensive Driving for CDL Drivers
When you’re planning your next professional truck driver safety and training course, it may be beneficial to share resources that help drivers better plan their routes.
The most hazardous roadway is often the one truck drivers are not aware of. Trying to read a map or adjusting your GPS can cause the kinds of distractions that lead a driver to accidents.
When it comes to technology in the truck’s cab, make sure your truck drivers have the opportunity to learn how to use it before starting a new job. Newer vehicles come with all kinds of GPS and safety tech, but it’s only as good as the driver operating it.
Truck drivers should pull to the side of the roadway, use their emergency blinkers, or take a break when it’s time to adjust their GPS or driving systems. This is considered one of the most crucial factors to learn in defensive truck driving training.
To drive defensively means knowing where you’re going on your driving and inform the other vehicle driver as well. Lane-change accidents are one of the first things you should talk about in your defensive driving training course.
First, understand that using your turn signal to let another vehicle driver see and know your intentions is essential in road accident prevention. Then check the road to the front and back to ensure it’s safe to change lanes.
Finally, make a safe lane change. Turn signals are one of the easiest tools to use in the prevention and management of defensive-driving training.
Defensive Driving for Truckers
Even if the management and employees feel the pressure to get a load delivered ahead of time, they should keep their safety at the front of their minds to lessen the risk of hazardous accidents.
A defensive driver training course should also focus on the prevention of transportation accidents. This tip will help and aid your management in dealing with having to work in resolving large injury-related problems.
Management should also realize that a late cargo isn’t worth the loss of life or some other emergency situation. Cargo can be replaced, but not their employees. A benefit you’ll get from focusing on safety every month is that a driver will get to go home safe every day.
Distracted driving is one of the biggest causes of accidents in the transportation world. Things like texting or checking online accounts while driving are huge hazards and actually stop you from being able to drive safely and defensively.
Safe driving also means living safely. That means making sure you always get enough sleep, that you eat a healthy diet, and that you don’t try to over-extend yourself.
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