Defensive driving is driving so as to prevent accidents in
spite of the incorrect actions of others or adverse driving
conditions, such as weather, traffic, lighting, vehicle or
road condition, or the driver's physical or mental state.
The defensive driver assumes that other drivers may make
mistakes and is on guard in the event an error is made.
Your safety program should include defensive driver training
on the proper way to drive in adverse conditions. Failure to
adjust to adverse conditions is a major factor in accidents.
The adverse conditions most frequently encountered result in
reduced traction (rain, snow, ice, slush and gravel) and
reduced visibility (twilight, darkness, rain, snow and fog).
Drivers should develop the skills and judgment necessary to
keep their own vehicle safely under control and try to
anticipate and be prepared to compensate for errors other
drivers make during such poor driving conditions. Here are
some areas that should be addressed regarding defensive
driving and tips to help your drivers become defensive
- Have drivers been trained to safely maneuver on slippery surfaces and under reduced visibility conditions?
- Is there a safe off-road area available to drivers for practicing vehicle handling on slippery surfaces?
- Do your drivers know what causes jackknifing and how to prevent it?
- Do trip schedules take into account the potential effect of inclement weather?
- Are tire chains provided when operating in areas that warrant their use?
- Do you know if your drivers operate safely on slippery surfaces and under reduced visibility conditions?
- Do you periodically have qualified personnel ride with your drivers to assess their driving habits?
- Do drivers properly adjust mirrors and perform a pre-trip inspection to assure that all lights are functioning properly, tires have sufficient tread and pressure, windshield wipers function, washer fluid is available, and tire chains are available where necessary?
- Are drivers aware of the concept of a preventable accident? A preventable accident is one in which the driver failed to exercise every reasonable precaution to prevent the accident. This is irrespective of the extent of property damage or personal injury, to whom it occurred or the location of the accident.
To be a defensive driver when driving in adverse conditions, drivers should:
- Increase following distance enough to avoid a rear-end collision if a driver in front brakes hard.
- Keep headlights, taillights, mirrors, windows and windshield clean.
- Use emergency flashers as necessary.
- Apply brakes gently and steer without jerky movements.
- Be extremely cautious when running empty or bobtailing in slippery conditions. Lightly loaded wheels lock up easily during braking, which causes jackknifing.
- Beware of traveling too slowly on slick, banked curves. The vehicle might slide sideways into traffic or slide off the road.
- Be prepared to get off road and wait for conditions to improve, if necessary.
COPYRIGHT ©2005, ISO Services Properties, Inc.