Frequent driver training plays an important role in establishing a proactive driver safety strategy. Even the most seasoned of drivers need to have consistent refreshers on important defensive driving skills. The effectiveness of driver training is easy to spot too – fleets that commit to monthly training have far fewer violations, with 25% less than the industry average and 50% less than fleets that train twice a year. We explore key factors of defensive driver training that are crucial for every commercial driver to keep top of mind while out on the road.
Curb Bad Habits with Defensive Driving for Truck Drivers
Defensive driving is a set of skills drivers gain to defend themselves against roadway incidents like collisions caused by bad drivers, drunk drivers and poor weather. Key defensive driving rules include:
- Look up ahead
- Be aware of blind spots
- Slow down at all intersections
- Maintain a safe following distance
- Minimize all distractions
- And much more
There’s a good chance that many of your drivers are not following the rules of defensive driving – whether they do so knowingly or it’s been a while since they’ve practiced specific skills. While you’re probably already collecting data on drivers’ bad habits, as the saying goes, knowing isn’t fixing. That’s why implementing educational lessons around the 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.
Check out a handful of our driver courses below that cover important defensive driving topics.
16 Fleet Defensive Driving Courses to Enhance Truck Driver Safety Training
1. Defensive Driving Overview
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 scan 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
2. 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 and the steps that need to be taken if one does occur. Warning device placement, driving in reduced visibility and stop avoidance are also covered in this lesson.
3. Communicating Intentions
Communicating intentions while driving is an important aspect of defensive driving. Drivers can learn how to anticipate the actions and behaviors of other drivers as well as the many techniques and tools a driver may use to communicate, including:
- Proper use of headlights, horn, emergency flashers and 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 discussed.
5. Speed Management
Speed is the number one cause of collisions. Knowing how to manage speed and choose the right speed based on conditions can give the driver time to take appropriate action and avoid a collision.
Drivers can expect to improve their understanding of:
- Choosing the right speed for the conditions
- Handling traction and poor road conditions
- 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 a 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 typical causes of skids, different types of skids, how to recover from a skid and most importantly, how to avoid them 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 navigating 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 of 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
- Navigate 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, highways and more.
13. Road Rage
Road rage is something drivers see every day on the road and something they most likely experience. In this lesson, drivers learn helpful 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 them.
16. Driver Distractions
According to AAA, drivers make up to 100 decisions per mile. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also 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 driving 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.