Increase driver safety with these 23 best practices. Fleet driver safety is one of the most important factors a fleet manager can measure. These tips have been known to lower costs, liability, and downtime.
- Obey The Speed Limit: Trainers will tell you that this is one of the most common causes of roadside accidents. Be sure to follow all speed limit signs during your shipment and never drive in a hurry. Most states have similar speed limits, but it is important to keep track of what they are while you traverse over state borders. Here is a list of different speed limits by state
- Constantly Check Your Mirrors: Being aware of your surroundings drastically decreases your chances of a collision. Get in the habit of checking all mirrors while driving your route every 3-5 seconds. Other drivers are known for underestimating what truck drivers can see, especially in blind spots. Always expect the unexpected when driving in high density areas.
- Control Your Anger: Road rage can be a problem. Maintaining your composure during your trip, especially when another driver is the aggressor, is difficult. When you find that you’re getting angry during your drive, take the time to control your breathing and calm down. Allowing aggressive drivers to carry on with their dangerous ways is better than retaliating.
- Remove Distractions: Anything you can do to prevent your eyes from moving away from the road is beneficial. Don’t use your cell phone or eat while driving your route.
- Get a Full Night Sleep: Driver fatigue is extremely dangerous for everyone on the road. If you are not sleeping the full 8 hours your body requires, then you are setting yourself up for disaster. Falling asleep at the wheel endangers you and the drivers around you!
- Wear Your Seatbelt: Easy habit to remember, but you would be surprised at how many drivers don’t wear their seat belt. Not buckling your seat belt could turn a minor injury into a fatality. Buckle up drivers!
- Keep Headlights On: Most state laws require lights to be on even during the daytime for large fleet vehicles. It may seem like a silly idea, but headlights are easier to see in mirrors even in the daytime. It’s a good way to stay visible when other drivers on the road are distracted.
- Plan Your Trip: Mapping out your entire route can help prepare you for upcoming traffic, fuel stops, and expected time of arrival. Preparation will also prevent you from getting behind on your schedule and creating unnecessary risks.
- Increase Your Following Distance: A good rule of thumb to live by is adding 1 second per 10 mph with the vehicle in front of you. For example, if you are driving 50 mph, then your distance between the person in front of you should be at least 5 seconds. The best way to figure this out is to count out loud when the vehicle in front of you passes a stationary object (like a road sign). If it takes 5 seconds for the stationary object to pass your vehicle after it passed the vehicle ahead, then you are practicing a safe following distance.
- Pay Attention to Traffic Ahead: When you are driving long hours it becomes easy to only focus on the vehicle directly ahead of you. This is not necessarily a bad habit, but you should also be paying attention to what the traffic ahead of them is doing. Just in case the vehicle in front of you isn’t paying attention, you can prepare for the unexpected if traffic suddenly stops.
- Expect The Unexpected: Defensive driving is the best practice when you drive for a living. Are you about to pass through a green light? Look both ways and expect someone will run the red light. Is a car waiting to pull out in front of you? Hover over your brake and expect them to not see you. You can’t be caught off guard if you are always on guard.
- Understand Tire Blowouts: The first thing people usually do when they have a tire blow out is slam on the brakes. This could cause you to lose control of your vehicle. The best option is to gently slow your vehicle down and pull off to the side of the road as safely as possible. Remain calm and remember your safety procedures.
- Prepare For Weather: Keep an eye on weather forecasts throughout your trip. Travelling in severe weather means you should double your following distance due to slick road conditions. Knowing your route and which areas are prone to flooding is beneficial as well.
- Don’t Neglect Your Pre-Trip Inspection: If you have been driving for a while, then you understand how much repetition is involved in your pre-trip inspections. Sometimes we get complacent with monotony, be sure to not skip any steps when inspecting your vehicle before the long haul. These checklists are here for your safety as well as the safety of other drivers on the road.
- Parking Brake Usage: Some states require government vehicles and private fleets to use their parking brake during stops at traffic lights. This is to prevent rolling collisions that tend to happen with sensitive air brake systems. It may seem that you are applying the correct pressure, but it’s easy to get distracted and not notice your vehicle rolling into the person in front of you.
- Be Careful with Medication: If you’re on medication that states “Do not operate machinery,” then you shouldn’t be driving your vehicle while using it. This goes the same for alcohol.
- Always Have an Exit Strategy: This can be grouped up in the same category as expect the unexpected, but it needs to be emphasized due to its importance. While practicing all the defensive driving techniques during your trip, it’s a good idea to ask yourself “if I need to swerve, where should I go right now?” Picking a safe route off the road if you need to avoid a sudden incident can help you when the need presents itself.
- Never Make Assumptions: Go ahead and remove these thoughts from your head. “they see me” or “They will get out of my way.” Drivers are distracted more now than ever before, keep that in mind when you put your trust and career in their hands.
- Choose The Lesser of Two Evils: If you are presented with a scenario where you are either going to slam into a pile of cars or crash into a telephone pole, then you should choose the telephone pole. If you are driving defensively then these scenarios shouldn’t ever come up, but just know that its better to prevent human injury at all costs.
- Setup Road Triangles: If your vehicle breaks down and you need to pull over to the side of the road, then you need to setup road triangles behind and in front of your vehicle. Road triangles have different placements depending on location, but usually your road triangles should be 10 feet behind your trailer and then 100 feet behind that. If you can help it, try not to stop on a “blind curve.”
- Have a Roadside Assistance Plan: Breakdowns will happen, be sure to cover your vehicle with a comprehensive roadside assistance plan so you aren’t stranded in a dangerous location without help.
- Take Continuing Education Safety Classes: New and existing safety guidelines are easier to learn when the information is constantly repeated to your drivers.
- Setup a Safety Reward System: Creating an opportunity where drivers are competing with each other in regards to safety is a great method to make them remember the information and increase safety compliance.
From a fleet management standpoint, increasing driver safety is paramount, but it doesn’t have to be boring. Many businesses and government entities are using unique ideas to improve driver safety. For example, some counties have created obstacle course competitions where drivers can test their knowledge and driving skills for rewards.
Do you have an item that we didn’t cover on this list? We want to hear from you! Send us a message on the Encore Protection Facebook page and we may add your idea to this list. If you have any commercial roadside assistance questions or you are looking for a way to cut costs today, then give us a call at 1-844-6ENCORE.