Feel free to share this information with coworkers and family or in training sessions and safety meetings.
The car in front of you drifts into the shoulder lane several times. You finally pull up and, surprise, they are buried in their cell phone. A driver tails you aggressively for staying the speed limit and then barely misses your car as he or she cuts you off.
We’ve all dealt with them: tired drivers, distracted drivers and aggressive drivers. It’s not only frustrating, but also sobering. Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death in the U.S. More than 33,700 people died from motor vehicle crashes in 2014 alone.1
Getting in our vehicle is one the of the biggest risks we take daily. Yet, we can easily take this seemingly simple task for granted. We start feeling relaxed, maybe even “experienced”, and we might become a bit distracted ourselves.
That’s where the term defensive driving comes in.
What is defensive driving?
Think about it, you don’t go hiking in a potentially dangerous area without planning, taking the necessary equipment and staying on guard for dangers - animals, holes, poisonous plants and insects.
The same principle should apply to driving. We need to go into it prepared.
Even though we can’t stop others from reckless driving, the way we drive can have a major impact on our safety. Below are some defensive driving reminders that could very well save you from a serious accident.
Give it your 100 %
Please do not try to text, read emails, fill out forms, apply makeup, change your socks or eat a bowl of cereal while driving. Both of your hands need to be on the wheel. If you only have a few seconds to react to something, you might lose those seconds if you’re looking at your phone. Your focus should be solely on the road. Which brings us to tip 2…
Eyes on the ROAD
We’ve all heard of rubbernecking: “Hey what’s that new restaurant they’re building there?” “Let me get a closer look at that Tesla.” “Stinks for that guy who got pulled over…wait is that Larry?!” We get the point. If you’re the driving, your eyes need to be on traffic signs, pedestrians and other vehicles.
A lack of sleep and certain medications can make us drowsy. Drowsiness equals delayed reaction time. If you’re tired or on medication that has warnings about driving, use good judgment. Take a break, rest up, or have someone else drive you if at all possible.
Practice what you learned in school
Follow the 3 second rule, increase this if conditions are rainy, ice, or foggy. Check your mirrors frequently and scan conditions 20 to 30 seconds ahead of you. Follow the posted speed limit. Don’t try to beat the red light, but be aware of others who might do so.
Don’t get aggressive
If someone is aggressive, be the bigger person. Slow down or pull over if the aggressive driver poses a hazard to you. In the end, it’s not worth a car accident or a violent altercation.
If you have company vehicles, you need to train your employees on driver safety regularly. Recurring training on topics such as defensive driving, road rage, winter driver safety, and driving around construction are important. Make sure to drug test all company drivers and use your disciplinary policy if needed. A program where others on the road can report your drivers (How’s my driving?) can be effective in maintaining a reputation for safety. Some programs will even monitor the speed and braking habits of company vehicles and will alert you about an unsafe driver. Fleetmatics is one of those programs.
Follow the simple precautions listed in this post and continue training others so that we can all arrive safely at whatever destinations we’re heading to.
Sasha King, CSP
Safety Director at Design Electric, Inc.