One of the top safety tips for truck drivers is to always drive defensively. You’ve probably heard this advice even before you entered the trucking industry since it applies to drivers of passenger vehicles as well. But what does defensive driving actually mean, and how can it help you stay safe on the open road?
Defensive Driving Basics
The National Safety Council (NSC) has a course about defensive driving and defines it as “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.” Defensive drivers should always consider what hazards could arise and anticipate what others on the road may do in order to prevent accidents.
Key Behaviors for Safe Trucking
What sort of behaviors are included in the definition of defensive driving? In short, anything that keeps you aware of the road and helps you react quickly is a part of safe trucking.
Some key actions related to defensive driving include:
- Maintain a safe speed.
- Don’t drive distracted (while texting, eating, talking on the phone, et cetera).
- Scan the road for possible dangers, focusing on the area directly around you while also being aware of conditions 12 – 15 seconds ahead of you.
- Maintain a safe following distance.
- Watch other vehicles and adjust your behavior accordingly. For example, if you see a driver texting next to you, maintain a safe distance from them and leave more room if you merge into their lane.
- Take weather considerations into account.
The Importance of Defensive Driving for Truckers
The basic principles of defensive driving are the same whether you’re driving a compact vehicle or a semi-truck. That being said, commercial drivers face different challenges and have a heightened responsibility to others on the road.
Some of the reasons defensive driving is even more essential for truckers include:
Large Vehicle Size
Semi-tracks are massive compared to the standard passenger vehicle. This means they have the potential to do significant damage in an accident. Vehicle size also increases the necessary stopping distance, meaning there is less time to make a correction in the case of an unexpected hazard.
Lack of Awareness Among Passenger Vehicle Drivers
Many drivers aren’t aware of the challenges involved in operating a semi-truck. They may cut off an eighteen-wheeler, not realizing just how dangerous this sort of behavior is. While it’s unfortunate, the reality is that commercial drivers often need to pick up the slack by being even more cautious and aware of their surroundings.
Time on the Road
Truckers spend a lot more time on the road than the average driver. This means that the potential risk increases significantly. It’s important that commercial drivers don’t become complacent and instead strive to maintain safe practices at all times.
DSW Is Hiring Drivers
If you are interested in a truck driving job, DSW is currently hiring regional and long-haul drivers. We support our drivers and have a small company atmosphere with big company freight.