Defensive Driving 101 For Commercial Drivers

South Texas Roads Are Shared With Trained & Untrained Drivers

Commercial drivers face many challenges every day. You’re under a lot of pressure to transport goods on time, without damage and without risking your own safety or the safety of those with whom you share the road. Getting around the Eagle Ford Shale region would be easy if commercial vehicles had their own highways to maneuver through but unfortunately you have to share the roadways with everyone else.

You’re a trained and professional driver but the same can’t be said for other road users. This means that you have to drive defensively. Be alert and aware of your surrounding at all times.

Here are a few helpful tips to keep you and those around you safe:

Seeing The Road & Surroundings

To be a safe driver you need to know what’s going on all around your vehicle. Not looking properly is a major cause of accidents. Seeing ahead and watch for traffic. Be alert to accidents waiting to happen. Be aware of the effect that road conditions have on your vehicle’s performance.

Watch the sides and rear of your vehicle. Make sure your mirrors are adjusted to give you the best view. Pay attention to traffic, lane changes, turns, merges, tight maneuvers and understand what you see.

Be on the lookout for distracted drivers who are on the phone or moving around in their vehicle and not paying attention to the road. They could get themselves in trouble that could involve you. Identify developing problems quickly and be ready to respond to any potential hazards such as:

  • tight turns
  • vehicles stopped on the road or driving too slowly.

Communicating With Other Drivers

You certainly don’t want your actions to take other drivers by surprise and cause them to overreact. Communicating your presence efficiently keeps everyone safe. Signal your intentions promptly. Slow gradually. Avoid making sudden maneuvers.

Managing Space & Distance

To be a safe driver, you need space all around your vehicle. When things go wrong, space gives you time to think and to take action. To have space available when something goes wrong, you need to manage space. While this is true for all drivers, it is very important for large vehicles. They take up more space and they require much more space for stopping and turning so maintain a generous following distance. Be aware of the traffic to the sides and rear of your vehicle as well as in front.

Commercial vehicle drivers put in a lot of miles. Spending all that time on the road, it’s easy to fall into a routine and get complacent. Sometimes you have to make a point of being in the right frame of mind to drive. When you pretrip your vehicle and get ready to roll, pretrip yourself as well. Make sure you’re alert and paying attention. Don’t drive if you’re too fatigued or impaired to respond. Your safety and the safety of everyone else on the road depend on your knowledge and professionalism.

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Devorah Fox, President - Mike Byrnes and Associates, Inc Authors of BUMPERTOBUMPER®, The Complete Guide to Tractor-Trailer Operations and the Easy CDL iPhone apps, Mike Byrnes and Associates, Inc. has helped launch successful commercial motor vehicle operator careers since 1987.

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