Defensive Driving Techniques For Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers

Photo: Unsplash/Yassine Khalfalli

Professional drivers are frequently asked to adjust to bad driving behaviors of other drivers. They stay focused on the driving task at hand and react professionally. Lives depend on these defensive driving techniques. These techniques were provided by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

  1. Always Wear Your Seat Belt

In the U.S., motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of occupational deaths. Truck drivers are accounted for almost half of those fatalities. The risk for injury increases if commercial vehicle drivers do not use their seat belt. The seat belt is the most impactful way to decrease the number of injuries and save lives.

  1. Be Aware of Driving Conditions

There are always changing weather conditions and traffic congestion. Professional drivers must have the ability to prepare and stay aware of these conditions while on the road. Slow down when faced with these conditions. Professional drivers are suggested to reduce their speed by more than half on snow-packed roads and reduce their speed even more on icy roads. Pull off into a safe location if it is no longer safe to drive in these conditions.

  1. Don’t Speed

Speeding is one of the main reasons for traffic accidents today. Respect the laws and other drivers by not speeding.

  1. Do Not Focus on Non-Driving Objects

Professional drivers must keep their eyes on the road. They must focus on the potential road hazards they may face and limit glances away from the road to one second or less.

  1. You Can’t Fight Fatigue

Pull off to the side of the road into a safe location if you are a professional driver experiencing signs of fatigue. Quality sleep is important. A high number of single vehicle rollovers are credited to drivers falling asleep while driving.

  1. Search As You Drive

Professional drivers are encouraged to always observe the road in front, the sides and the rear of their vehicle. Look for any potential moving and fixed road hazards and watch for brake lights. Brake lights can signal hazards. Drivers must also anticipate possible traffic conditions.

  1. Be Careful When Backing

Professional drivers should observe the GOAL (Get Out And Look) when backing their vehicle. Do not back the vehicle until the path is clear of any person or obstacle. Check mirrors when backing, too.

  1. Maintain Your Lane of Travel

It is important to maintain the lane of travel for professional drivers due to the size of the vehicle. They can determine lane changes and exits by searching far enough ahead on the roadway. Professional drivers must always allow a four-second following distance and signal their intention to change lanes. Double the following distance if there is inclement weather.

  1. Be Aware of the “No Zones”

“No Zones” are the locations where professional drivers cannot see or hazards to the front, right, left and rear of their vehicle. Professional drivers must check their side mirrors for other vehicles entering this area. They must also pay attention to vehicles that are tailgating.

  1. Enter Curves Slowly

There are certain capabilities of a vehicle to keep in mind while driving. Drivers must know the load they are transporting, too. Therefore, it is important to slow down when approaching curves in the roadway. Pay attention to speed limits when entering a curve.

  1. Plan Your Route Before You Leave

It is dangerous to remove one or both hands while driving to program your GPS. Enter the information into the GPS before starting the trip.

  1. Turn Your Cell Phone Off While Driving

Professional drivers know that driving is the task at hand. According to CVSA, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) do not allow texting or the use of a hand-held electronic device while operating a commercial motor vehicle.

  1. Avoid Distractions While Driving

There are three types of driving distractions professional drivers must avoid. The first is a manual distraction. Manual distractions occur when drivers remove one or both hands off the steering wheel. The second type of distraction is visual. This is when drivers take their eyes off the roadway. Cognitive distractions are the third type drivers should avoid. These distractions take a driver’s mental attention away from driving. Anger, anxiety and fatigue are a few examples of cognitive distractions.

  1. Medications May Affect Your Driving Abilities

Prescription and over-the-counter medications may affect a professional driver’s ability to operate a commercial motor vehicle. A driver must know the side effects of their medications. It is prohibited to use amphetamines or methamphetamines while driving a commercial motor vehicle, according to the CVSA.