Defensive driving tips

  1. General advice
  2. Road use and Navigation
  3. Parking and Waiting
  4. Vulnerable Road Users
  5. Drivers and Motorcyclists
  6. Rules for Motorcyclists
  7. Pedestrians
  8. Defensive driving tips
  9. Road Test Tips
  10. Road Signs
  11. Highway Code Test

Introduction to defensive driving

Road incident investigators report that between 95% to 99% of all traffic incidents are caused by human failure. Failure to adjust your driving to hazardous conditions is what can cause tragic incidents.
Defensive driving simply put, means anticipating dangerous situations by taking into account the actions of others and the presence of adverse driving conditions. Defensive driving means being completely ready for potential surprises that could be harmful on the road.

Steps to driving defensively

  • See the hazard – as you drive, think about what is going to happen or what may happen as far ahead of encountering a situation as possible.
  • Understand the defense – each situation requires specific ways of reacting. Become familiar with the usual conditions that you may face and learn how to handle them.
  • Act in time – the moment you notice a hazard and understand the defense against it, act as soon as possible. Do not take a “wait and see what happens” attitude when driving.
  • Always be ready to adapt to the unpredictable and ever changing factors of light, weather, road and traffic conditions, the mechanical condition of your vehicle and your physical ability to concentrate and drive.

18 tips to driving defensively

  1. Be prepared for anything.
  2. Keep your mind on your driving. Keep your eyes on the road, and other drivers, and keep both hands on the wheel.
  3. Constantly look well ahead for changes in traffic or road conditions. If you see a lot of brake lights, slow down and be prepared to stop.
  4. Yield to drivers who are determined to get there first.
  5. Keep checking your rear view and side mirrors for traffic.
  6. Always expect the other driver to do the unexpected — speed up, slow down, pass, cut across lanes.
  7. Learn your mirrors’ “Blind Spots”;. Always turn your head and look for other vehicles (especially motorcycles) before changing lanes. Remember that your work vehicle will have different “Blind Spots” than your personal vehicle.
  8. Watch for sudden movements – like pedestrians, bicycles, or animals darting into the road in front of you.
  9. Carry emergency equipment. – a jack, spare tire (have you checked your spare tire for proper inflation lately?), flashlight, first aid kit, flares.
  10. Don’t speed! Watch for changing speed limits in urban areas.
  11. Obey the laws. Follow traffic rules, signs and signals.
  12. Don’t drive under the influence of drugs, alcohol or fatigue. (Remember cold medicines, and prescription drugs.)
  13. Stay at least 2 (two) seconds behind the other driver, more under poor conditions.
  14. Adjust your speed and driving to changing weather and traffic conditions.
  15. Lock your vehicle and take your keys with you when you leave it.
  16. Be a defensive driver. Protect yourself and others. Your are the professional driver, most people on the road are not.
  17. Walk behind your vehicle before you back up.
  18. Be a courteous driver. Your truck is a moving billboard, make a positive impression with other drivers, not a negative one.

Applying the defensive driving formula

The defensive driving formula

The ability to recognize potential hazards plus the decision to act on the defensive equals safety.

Driver’s Condition

When you drive a vehicle, you may be a hazard to yourself, the vehicle or your passengers if you lack the necessary knowledge skills, health and/or attitude to be a safe driver.

Driver’s knowledge

A driver who does not have the following knowledge must be considered a hazard:

  • A driver who does not have the following knowledge must be considered a hazard:
  • state highway laws
  • local rules and regulations
  • maintenance procedures
  • incident and emergency procedures
  • defensive driving
  • first aid

Driver’s skill

The driver must be able to:

  • correctly and safely perform all driving maneuvers
  • operate all equipment also including emergency equipment

Driver’s health

A good defensive driver will not drive with any of the following health problems:

  • fatigue
  • sickness
  • defective eyesight
  • defective hearing
  • emotional instability

Drive’s attitude

The defensive driver must constantly check to make sure he/she is:

  • alert
  • thinking positively
  • concentrating on the job at hand
  • is in control of his/her emotions.

If you’ve had an argument, before you start driving, you may not be in control of your temper.

Vehicle Conditions

The mechanical condition of your vehicle is a factor that can become a hazard if not monitored. A simple pre-trip to identify any potential mechanical faults is the first step in monitoring faults. Defects or potential defects should be repaired or at least watched and compensated for, if applicable.

The following are pre-trip inspection items:

  • Tires & wheels
  • Battery
  • Headlights
  • Heater
  • Turn signals
  • Windows
  • Belts
  • Horn
  • Mirrors
  • Crossing gate, if equipped
  • Flashers
  • Stop arm and 8-way loading lights
  • Seats
  • Coolant
  • Brakes
  • Windshield
  • Brake lights
  • Doors
  • Oil
  • Emergency equipment
  • Engine
  • Transmission
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