There are many cases in which accidents can be avoided through the use of defensive driving techniques and principles. In this article, we will discuss some of the principles of defensive driving and techniques that may be used to avoid accidents.
In general, defensive driving is the ability to recognize potentially hazardous situations sufficiently in advance to allow time to avoid them or safely maneuver past them. A defensive driver always assumes other drivers may make mistakes and is focused on avoiding accidents.
There are numerous defensive driving techniques and countermeasures that can be used to avoid accidents under many different scenarios. This article is focused on defensive driving techniques that may be used in the three specific types of situations described below.
Each of the following techniques can be found on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website.
Because of their length and slow acceleration, trucks take much more time to cross and clear an intersection than do automobiles and therefore present problems that automobiles do not have.
Safe passing maneuvers require well-developed skills and judgment. Because drivers must perform several tasks in a short time during passing, the chance of an error is high unless the maneuver is done cautiously. Because it sometimes takes a long time before an opportunity to pass safely arises, some drivers take risks and assume other drivers will compensate for their own aggressiveness.
Inadequate evasive maneuvers can be described as instances where drivers are not using sufficient steering inputs, not using sufficient brake pedal or a combination of both. According to a study by the FMCSA, 14% of safety-critical events occurred when a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) driver made an inadequate evasive maneuver.
Perhaps the most common consequences of inadequate evasive action are roadway departure, steering to the wrong side of roadway, cargo or trailer-shift, excessive braking creating potential hazard, loss of control, and locking of brakes.
Carriers can reduce the number, severity and cost of vehicle-related accidents by providing drivers with training on the proper use of defensive driving skills. Importantly, these types of skills are also required knowledge for all CMV drivers under 49 CFR 383.111. The required knowledge under this regulation includes speed and space management, visual search, hazard perception, and emergency maneuvers.