Defensive driving is driving 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 negotiate roadway curves. While automobiles can
lose traction and slide out of control when negotiating a curve at
an excessive speed, commercial motor vehicles will tend to rollover.
The more top-heavy a vehicle is, the more likely it will rollover
rather than slide out of a curve. During a tractor-trailer rollover,
the trailer usually begins to roll before the tractor. By the time
the driver realizes that the trailer is rolling, there is not much
that can be done to prevent a complete rollover. Here are some areas
that should be addressed regarding defensive driving and tips to
help your drivers become better defensive drivers.
- Do drivers know that the posted advisory speed on curves is not for commercial vehicles, but for automobiles?
- Do your drivers know that commercial motor vehicles generally cannot negotiate curves at as high a speed as automobiles without the possibility of rolling over?
- Do your drivers know what conditions make rollover more likely (e.g., high center of gravity of load, unsecured heavy load and excessive speed)?
- 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, drivers should:
- Ensure that cargo loads are secured to prevent moving from side to side.
- Ensure that the fifth wheel is adequately lubricated.
- Remember that top-heavy cargo will cause commercial vehicles to rollover in curves at speeds lower than those loaded with flat, compact cargo.
- Maintain speeds below the curve advisory speed to prevent rollover incidents.
- Reduce speed before entering curve as there may not be enough time to slow down before rolling over if a curve is entered too fast. Since trailers usually begin to roll first, a driver may not know the vehicle is rolling over until it is too late.
- Stay off the shoulder in curves. The right or left side wheels may drop or sink down into a shoulder and increase the chance of a rollover.
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