It’s common for people to think that being safe on the road only requires that they be a safe driver and maneuver correctly. According to the National Safety Council, “Defensive Driving” is driving to save time, money and lives in spite of the actions of others and the conditions around you.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were more than 34,000 motor-vehicle-accident fatalities in 2015. Reported injuries were more than 780,000. A fatality on the road occurs in America every 15 minutes. Don’t be one of those fatalities or cause a fatality on the road! Learn from those who have made mistakes, as an accident is a total loss unless something useful can be learned from it.
To be a safe and effective Defensive Driver, you need to practice and train for competency in the following five attributes:
- Knowledge – Of the regulations and rules of the road.
- Alertness – At all times and by adjusting your eyes to prevent being dazed and
- Foresight – Often developed by experienced drivers. This is looking ahead for
potential danger that can be avoided by planning forethought.
- Judgement – Knowing your vehicle, using mirrors, and checking blind spots to
- Skill – Proper maneuvering of your vehicle in all driving situations.
Avoid Hazards with Visual Scanning
This means continually scanning the entire area ahead, to the sides and behind your vehicle; and never staring at a single object or in a single direction. Adjust your eyes every 3-5 seconds to avoid a fixed stare or daze. Scan the entire area, looking 6-8 seconds ahead of your vehicle. In cities and around neighborhoods and congested areas, 6 to 8 seconds is equal to about a city block or slightly beyond. This should provide enough time to spot a problem, decide how to react, assess traffic conditions, and maneuver out of a potentially negative situation.
When scanning ahead, pay special attention to anything that could affect your vehicle’s path of travel including:
- Other vehicles
- Traffic signals
- Weather-related hazards
- Distracted or aggressive drivers
- Work/construction zones
- Emergency vehicles
- Road signs
- Stopped vehicles
Additional Visual Scanning Tips
- Scan to the left, right, and behind by using your vehicle’s mirrors and side windows. Look over your shoulder to reveal the blind spots.
- Visual scanning is especially important: at intersections when changing lanes or merging; or where people could unexpectedly dart into traffic, like a congested office or retail complexes and neighborhoods.
- Avoid backing as much as possible. It’s best to back into a space first when you have a clear view, and then pull out later when clear and unobstructed. Before moving your vehicle, always walk around the vehicle to inspect for hazards, obstructions, or vehicle issues.
Key points to remember as a Defensive Driver
- When a delivery driver is uncomfortable, they should pull over and take the time to reevaluate.
- Never put yourself or others at risk by failing to exercise proper and safe defensive driving measures.
- Always take time to evaluate the current driving situation.
- Never place the fast delivery of a food item above the safety of yourself and others.