Troopers have a slang term for people who do stupid things behind the wheel – called “driving HUA.” These oblivious drivers seem to think they’re the only ones on the road and are a danger to everyone, including themselves. HUA drivers are just one of many things that can cause a collision out on the road. Bad visibility, unsafe speeding and unprofessional behavior by the truck driver are other common factors.

When it comes to collision prevention, the best defense is not driving aggressively. Behind the wheel, that means adopting the right attitude. Nudging the accelerator, following too close or giving in to road rage are bad habits that can eventually snowball into an incident.

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Curb bad habits with defensive driving for truck drivers

Instead, truck drivers can practice defensive driving skills. Defensive driving is a set of skills drivers gain to defend against roadway incidents like collisions caused by bad drivers, drunk drivers and poor weather. Five key defensive driving rules include:

  1. Look up ahead
  2. Be aware of blind spots
  3. Slow down at all intersections
  4. Maintain a safe following distance
  5. Minimize all distractions

There’s a good chance that many of your drivers have not followed the rules of defensive driving. While you’re probably already collecting data on driver bad habits, as the saying goes, knowing isn’t fixing.

That’s why implementing educational lessons around these sixteen most seen truck driver behaviors is necessary to keep your fleet protected, retain your current drivers and equip your new hires with the education needed to succeed. You may also be pleasantly surprised in the changes occurring within your fleet with truck driver safety training efforts.

Sixteen fleet defensive driving courses to enhance truck driver safety training

1. Avoiding Roadside Collisions 

Roadside collisions are rare, but when they happen, the outcome is often severe and costly. Drivers can learn how to prevent roadside collisions. They can also learn the steps needing to be taken in the event of a roadside collision or if stopping on the side of the road is required. Warning device placement, driving in reduced visibility plus collision and stop avoidance are also covered in this lesson.

2. Defensive Driving

A defensive driver is one who identifies dangers far enough down the road so that they have enough time to safely maneuver around hazards. Drivers must always assume that other drivers will make mistakes and be scanning the highway to see what’s coming. This lesson covers common hazard areas and ways for drivers to stay aware of what is going on around their vehicles.

Drivers can expect to know more about:

  • What defensive driving means
  • The importance of situational awareness
  • Space management
  • Speed management
  • How to use an effective scanning pattern
  • Awareness of environmental factors that impact changes in speed and space management
  • How to communicate intentions to both those who share the road and pedestrians
  • Maintaining a professional attitude while driving

3. Communicating Intentions

Communicating intentions while driving is an important part of defensive driving. Drivers can learn how to anticipate the actions and behaviors of other drivers plus the many techniques and tools a driver may use to communicate, including:

  • Proper use of headlights, horn, emergency flashers and use of turn signals
  • Proper use of warning signals and devices on divided and undivided highways
  • Proper utilization of eye contact techniques with other drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians

4. Emergency Maneuvers

Emergency maneuvers are actions taken by a driver to avoid an injury, loss, accident or death. Emergency maneuvers such as evasive steering, oncoming vehicles, stopped vehicles and off-road recovery are all covered. Equipment failures, including brake failure and the actions to be taken following these failures, are also covered.

5. Speed Management

Speed is the number one cause of collisions. Knowing how to manage speed and choose the right speed based off conditions can give the driver time to take appropriate action to avoid a collision.

Drivers can expect to improve their understanding of:

  • How to choose the right speed for the conditions
  • Traction and poor road conditions
  • How to deal with aggressive drivers
  • Managing hills and curves

6. Space Management

Using 3D animations, this lesson takes an in-depth look at how to manage the space around the vehicle. Drivers learn about defining and maintaining a safety cushion, adjusting to traffic, changing lanes and merging, left and right turns, intersections and blind spots.

7. Skid Control

Losing control of a vehicle in a skid is a situation no one wants or expects to encounter. Drivers have a split second to make the right move. The wrong choice can be literally life or death. This lesson reviews the most causes of skids, different types of skids, how to recover from a skid and most importantly, how to avoid skids in the first place.

8. Rear-End Collision Avoidance

Rear-end collisions create some of the worst crashes, especially when a large commercial vehicle crashes into a passenger vehicle. This course helps drivers avoid rear-end collisions by enhancing their understanding of:

  • How to measure and maintain following distance
  • How to calculate stopping distance
  • How to safely use cruise control
  • Tips for driving in reduced-visibility conditions
  • How to navigate intersections and passing other vehicles

9. Lane Changes and Intersections

Lane changes and negotiating intersections can be difficult for large commercial vehicles because of their size, speed and lack of visibility around the vehicle. Lane changes and intersections are areas where there is an increased probability for a crash. Drivers can learn more detailed information and tips on how to safely make lane changes and navigate intersections. Mirror use, lane change rules, space and speed management are covered in-depth.

10. Summer and Mountain Driving

Many drivers aren’t aware there are different challenges when driving in the summer. This lesson reviews how to drive on mountain roads, conduct brake checks and use runaway ramps. It also covers using auxiliary brakes as well as hot weather and desert driving.

11. Winter Driving

Reduced visibility, changing road conditions and vehicle breakdowns make winter driving a challenge. Drivers can learn how to:

  • Prepare for winter driving
  • Install tire chains
  • Drive in winter conditions
  • Know when to stop and find a safe place to park
  • Deal with skids and poor traction

12. Visual Search

The best way to avoid hazards is to constantly assess the environment using visual search techniques. This lesson reviews effective scanning patterns, how to adjust mirrors and use them properly, visual lead time for city streets, rural roads and highways and other topics.

13. Road Rage

Road rage is something drivers see every day on the road and something they may experience. Drivers can gleam tips on how to cope with the actions of others.

14. Fatigue and Fatigue Management

Being tired while operating a commercial vehicle is extremely dangerous. This lesson helps drivers learn to recognize the early symptoms of fatigue, when to stop and take a break and strategies to manage and combat fatigue. It also covers how to use sleep cycles to their best effect and federal regulations regarding driver fatigue.

15. Night Driving

At night, there are different hazards to be aware of, including fatigue and reduced visibility. This lesson takes a closer look at some of the challenges associated with night driving and how to deal with these challenges.

16. Driver Distractions

According to AAA, drivers make up to 100 decisions per mile and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports distractions and inattentive driving play a part in one out of every four motor vehicle incidents. This lesson identifies different types of driver distractions, how to minimize them and the consequences of distracted driving.

Defensive driving takes a patient mindset

Dealing with bad behavior, bad road conditions and other collision-causing factors is all about developing the right mindset. That’s why cultivating a culture of safety with online training is so integral.

To find out where to start, download our guide and learn more about the questions you should be asking when looking to implement driver training at your company.

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