When it comes to preventing collisions and remaining safe on the road, strong defensive driving skills are crucial. Defensive driving allows you to anticipate and navigate potentially dangerous on-the-road situations. The following are some basic strategies to keep in mind while you are traveling via commercial vehicle.
Complete pre and post trip inspections
Before and after you venture off on a road trip, you will want to make sure that your vehicle is in tip top shape. The purpose of a pre and post trip inspection is to verify that things like your vehicle tires, brakes, mirrors, and other safety components are in excellent condition. Driving a poorly maintained commercial vehicle puts you at greater risk of getting into an accident. It also affects your ability to properly react to hazards that may arise while cruising down the road. Do yourself a favor and create a pre-trip inspection and post trip checklist to work into your driving routine. That way, you can feel confident in your safety and in the safety of your vehicle.
Know your route and anticipate potential hazards
It is always important to be prepared before setting out on a driving route. Hitting a bad patch of weather or a traffic jam without a plan can affect the terms of your delivery. It can also put you in a potentially dangerous situation. Before you depart on your trip, make sure that you check the weather, investigate road conditions, and determine whether or not your route could be impacted by construction.
When you are driving for hours on end, you may find yourself getting a little bored and subsequently, distracted. However, it is imperative for your safety and for the safety of others that you stay laser-focused on the road. Avoid things like texting, talking on the phone, eating, or reaching for items in your cabin. Put on an interesting podcast or a good album to jam to if it will inspire you to stay alert. Pull over into a rest stop if you need to take a break.
According to most driving coaches, one should look at least 12-15 seconds ahead while driving. Doing so will give you ample time to react to potential hazards in the road. That way, you can avoid them safely. Be sure to consistently check your mirrors for possible perils as well.
Use your turn signals
This may sound obvious, but when you have been on the road for hours and you hit your driving stride, it can be easy to forget such a simple step. To give other drivers a heads up, turn signals should be used:
- When you are changing lanes
- When you pass vehicles
- While merging with traffic
- When you pull over
- When you make a right or a left-hand turn
Maintain a good following distance
There is almost nothing more jarring than having to slam on the breaks because something unexpected has happened to the driver in front of you. So give other vehicles as much space on the road as you can. The more distance that you put between yourself and other drivers, the more time you give yourself to react to treacherous scenarios. Doing so could ultimately save your life.
Manage your speed
Speed limit signs will indicate what speed you should be traveling at. However, commercial vehicle drivers need to take other factors into account like road conditions, weather, visibility, and traffic patterns. As a driver, precise speed management is key. You have to be able to keep control of your vehicle. If that means that you cruise steadily below the speed limit, so be it.
Last, but certainly not least, you will want to make sure you are well rested before you hit the road. It is incredibly common for commercial vehicle drivers to suffer from driver fatigue due to the nature of the job. Common signs and symptoms of fatigue include:
- Sore or tired eyes
- Slow reaction times
- Sore muscles
- A decreased ability to focus or concentrate
Driver fatigue contributes to over 300,000 vehicle collisions each year. To protect yourself and others on the road, consider the following do’s and don’ts:
- Avoid consuming alcohol before a trip. One beer or shot of whiskey is enough to trigger a poor night’s sleep.
- Take regular breaks. Do not operate your vehicle if you are feeling lethargic.
- Catch your ZzZs consistently. Experts recommend 7-9 hours of sleep per night if you can manage it.
- Try not to travel during times when you would typically be snoozing.
- Avoid skipping meals or eating at irregular times. For pro-tips on how to maintain a healthy diet on the road, see our blog post 5 Ways to Live Healthy As A Truck Driver.
- Avoid medications that may make you drowsy. If you rely on a prescription medication, chat with your doctor to find a solution that benefits your health, but that also keeps you energized and focused.
There is a lot at risk when it comes to driving commercial vehicles. To mitigate those risks, it is important to prioritize your safety in every way possible. To learn more about the precautions that you can take to safeguard yourself and others, contact Camargo Insurance today.
This Risk Insights is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice. © 2010 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.