Truckers spend a significant amount of time on the road, and it’s important that they focus on safety. This protects the drivers themselves, as well as their freight and others on the road. Defensive driving is a key skill that helps truckers stay safe and prevent accidents.
What Is Defensive Driving?
Defensive driving is the practice of anticipating potential hazards before they become dangerous and taking steps to prevent accidents through safe driving. Multiple behaviors fall under the umbrella of defensive driving.
Some of these include:
- Focusing on the road and avoiding both physical and mental distractions
- Never driving under the influence
- Scanning the road as a whole for potential hazards rather than looking only at the car in front of you
- Maintaining a safe speed
- Maintaining a safe following distance
- Staying calm and managing your mental state to avoid road rage
Benefits Of Driving Defensively
First and foremost, the major benefit of being a defensive driver is that you are keeping yourself and others safe. This method of driving helps prevent accidents, which should be a top goal for you as a trucker. You have a responsibility to yourself, your company, and everyone you share the road with to be a responsible and safe driver.
Beyond this, driving defensively can also help you be more efficient and travel more miles so you can increase your pay. By minimizing the risk of accidents, you can spend more time on the road instead of dealing with issues.
Defensive driving also helps you avoid fines for traffic violations, and improves your reputation with your motor carrier.
How To Be A Defensive Driver
Defensive driving is more than just a list of behaviors. It’s a mindset that you need to practice so that safety is a consistent focus when you’re behind the wheel.
Here are some tips you can use to improve your defensive driving skills:
1. Ask “What If…?”
As you’re driving, ask yourself “what if” questions to help imagine what could happen on the road. For example, if there’s a car nearby, ask what would happen if they suddenly changed lanes in front of you. Would you have to swerve to avoid them? If so, you may be able to adjust your position so you have more space. There are many different questions you could ask to help you identify hazards that could occur suddenly and prepare in advance.
2. Find Ways To Stay Focused
Focus is a big part of defensive driving. It’s also often a challenge when you spend much of your day behind the wheel. Simply understanding the importance of paying close attention to the road may not be enough to make this a habit. Instead, identify practical strategies that help you stay alert. For example, you may notice that certain types of music keep your focus on the road.
3. Evaluate Your Driving
Self-evaluation is a key skill for truck drivers. After every trip, think about what you did well in terms of safety and identify any issues or close calls you had. Determine what you can do better next time you hit the road, and commit to continuing to grow over time.
Learn To Be A Safe Trucker
At Phoenix Truck Driving School in Albuquerque, we understand the importance of safety and teach our students valuable defensive driving skills. Our program can help you earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) in as little as four weeks.