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Paranoid Driving

Paranoia isn’t always bad, especially when it makes you more aware of what’s happening around you. Yesterday we discussed road rage as a serious highway hazard. Today we’ll look at how to get your employees to be safe, defensive drivers. Most people think they are, but the truth is that many of your workers probably don’t know or don’t regularly practice the concepts of defensive driving.

A defensive driver is someone who recognizes hazards, understands defensive moves, and acts in time to avoid motor vehicle accidents.   The standard Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations defines defensive driving as “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.”

Why So Defensive?

How many of your employees are defensive drivers? Probably not nearly enough. This means that every time they get behind the wheel, some of your people could be at risk, especially when they confront common driving hazards such as:

  • Heavy traffic
  • Bad road conditions
  • Construction
  • Vehicles in less than safe operating condition
  • Adverse weather conditions
  • Poor lighting conditions
  • Driver fatigue
  • People driving under the influence
  • Angry or distracted drivers

And then you have to worry about those workers who, frankly, are reckless. Whether it’s caused by anger,  impatience, distractions, or careless attitude, reckless driving involves risk-taking behavior such as speeding, tailgating, weaving through traffic and ignoring traffic laws, signs, and signals.

Modern best-practice road safety strategies focus upon the prevention of serious injury and death crashes in spite of human fallibility (which is contrasted with the old road safety paradigm of simply reducing crashes assuming road user compliance with traffic regulations). In other words, simply following the rules isn’t sufficient protection from the actions of others, over whom you have no control. The traditional defensive driving techniques assumed that everyone followed the rules, the new techniques assume they do not.

3 Basic Techniques

There are three basic defensive techniques that can help employees avoid the majority of traffic accidents.

1. Two-second rule. Stay at least two seconds behind the driver in front. To gauge distance, start counting 1,001, 1,002 when the car in front passes a utility pole or other roadside landmark. If you reach the utility pole before counting 1,002, you are following too closely. In bad weather, add even more time to accommodate the reduced road conditions.

2. Pass to stay alive. If you want to pass, look for broken yellow lines and check to see if any traffic is coming toward you. Then look to see if anyone behind you is moving out to pass. Speed up to get around the other vehicle. Get back into the right lane as quickly as possible. Do not pass unless you can see far enough ahead. And if you are being passed, slow down if the other vehicle needs extra room to pass you safely.

3. Keep cool and alert in traffic. Navigating through heavy traffic is both hazardous and stressful. Be ready to react quickly and be prepared for:

  • Sudden stops
  • Disabled cars
  • Cars moving in and out of lanes
  • Cars crossing lanes to get to an exit
  • Cars passing from any side
  • Potholes, debris on the road, or construction

A solid, defensive driving training program is essential for your vehicle drivers. But all your employees can benefit from defensive driving training. Employees may be surprised by how much they have yet to learn about safe driving-likely one reason safety-conscious employers rely on repeated training, supplemented by constant reminders.

Categories: Health, Safety, Training
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