One of the keys to staying safe on the road is to always drive defensively. This is especially true for drivers in the trucking industry. Truckers spend long hours on the road and face a wide variety of dangerous road conditions. You never know what is around the corner, so learning to drive defensively is an essential skill to keep you and the drivers around you safe.
What is Defensive Driving?
As defined by the National Safety Council and the American Society of Safety Engineers, defensive driving is “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.” Defensive driving goes beyond basic skills, helping you anticipate and mitigate potentially hazardous situations.
Tips for Defensive Driving
Learning the basics of defensive driving can increase your chances of staying safe despite what other drivers around you are doing.
Follow these five defensive driving tips to remain safe on the road:
1. Maintain a Safe Following Distance
Creating and maintaining a safe following distance is one of the foundations of defensive driving. As recommended by the US Department of Transportation, commercial trucks traveling up to 40 mph should maintain at least four seconds behind the vehicle in front of them. The DOT also recommends adding one second for every additional 10 mph of speed.
2. Adjust Your Speed to the Conditions
Many factors besides posted speed limits play a role in how fast a trucker should be driving. Construction zones, rush hour traffic, and potential snow or rain all require a speed reduction and more caution. Anticipating these changing conditions and adjusting your speed accordingly will help you prevent a motor vehicle accident.
3. Eliminate Any Distractions
Lack of focus is one of the top causes of distracted driving-related crashes. Eliminating any distractions in your vehicle will maximize your reaction time and help you concentrate on the road. You can do this by never using your phone while driving, turning off the radio in heavy traffic and poor weather conditions, and setting your GPS before you start your engine.
4. Make Sure You Are Seen
While it may seem impossible for someone to miss a semi-truck, extreme weather conditions can decrease visibility and make it difficult for others to notice your vehicle until it’s too late. In addition, drivers that are tired, drunk, upset, or young may not be attentive enough. Make yourself seen by others on the road by turning your lights on, braking slowly, and taking wide turns.
5. Stay Alert
It only takes a second for an accident to occur, so you must stay alert when driving long distances. To keep yourself focused on driving, it is helpful to look around at other drivers. Trying to recognize their driving patterns and seeing if you can predict their next move is a good practice in defensive driving.
Learn Defensive Driving at our Commercial Drivers License Training School
Defensive driving is one of the many skills you will practice at Phoenix Truck Driving School, along with pre and post-trip inspections, cab familiarization, and other basic road skills. Our instructors are drivers with real-world experience and will share their knowledge and expertise with you. We are committed to helping prepare you for your truck driving career.