For those who work in the fleet industry, or drive for a living, defensive driving techniques are some of the most important things you can learn in your job. In 2019, there were 153,158 reported road casualties in Great Britain, 4,895 of which were ‘goods vehicle occupants’. Because of the vast number of hours spent on the road, you are more likely to witness or experience road accidents on your travels than those who drive less frequently. This is why it is vital you are aware of even the most basic defensive driving techniques, to keep you and your vehicle, safe and sound.
Here at Fleetsmart, we are passionate about keeping our roads as safe as possible, which is what our vehicle tracking devices can help do. Here are some of what we believe are the most important defensive driving techniques, for any vehicle on our roads.
Before You Start Driving
There are many safety rules to consider before you start driving, including the blatantly obvious like wearing a seatbelt and adjusting your mirrors. One of the most important things that you are responsible for is being highly knowledgeable about the vehicle you are driving.
If you work in the fleet industry, you may be driving a lorry, van, truck or taxi. You may even be driving different kinds of vehicles day-to-day, so it is important you understand the differences between vehicles, and how everything works. Granted, some of the information about how a vehicle works, can often come with practice but you should have a good read of the vehicle’s manual so that you know what you are driving.
Also, different speed limits apply to different vehicles, so it is also useful to brush up your knowledge of the highway code to make sure you really know your stuff. A tip that is particularly useful for those travelling for a long time, over a long distance, is to check the weather forecast for your whole journey, before you set off. You don’t want to end up stuck on the side of a hill in the snow. For tips on driving in bad weather, check out our helpful guide here.
Check the weather, plan your route and bring anything you think you may need, should you run into some bad weather. All of these points are a great start to being the safest driver you can, and avoiding accidents.
Although defensive driving techniques are widely understood by most people, it is important to refresh your memory and bear these things in mind when you’re on the roads for long periods of time. As a driver of a company vehicle, you must be able to communicate well with other road users. Flashing people as a signal to give way to someone is actually not recommended. It isn’t always the best technique because although from where you’re sitting the way looks clear, another driver on the other side of the road might have other intentions. This can result in an accident that is partly your fault, for flashing.
Despite this, amongst road users, flashing is widely accepted as a way to communicate. So, it is useful for you to be aware of the rules as well as what other drivers are likely to do, and how they are likely to communicate with you. A great tip is to remember that priority is given, not taken, so you should always be looking at how other drivers communicate with you to understand their intentions.
A way to make sure you are always driving defensively, and not competitively, is to always maintain a safe distance behind the car or vehicle in front of you. This is very important for large vehicles. Even when your vehicle is stationary in traffic or at the lights, you should always be able to see the tyres and tarmac on the car in front. That gap will help protect you and your vehicle.
At all times, make sure you are observing, anticipating and planning. Observations are key when it comes to driving and you must always be prepared to stop potential hazards and anticipate accidents. This ties in with staying focused and being patient.
Driving fatigue is a major cause of road accidents. It is particularly hazardous for those who drive at night or during hours outside of their normal routine. If you ever feel sleepy on the road, it is time for you to pull over. Remember, it is never worth the risk of continuing to drive while fatigued. To help yourself to not feel this way, drive with the windows open and drink some strong coffee.
As mentioned earlier, the rules of the road are slightly different for large vehicles, and you must be aware of them. Things like passing safely and stopping distances, are all a part of how large vehicles can avoid accidents, so make sure you know the rules and averages.
If you’re driving a lorry, bus or large van, anticipating wide turns is of the utmost importance. Observe other drivers around you, as sometimes drivers will not leave you the room that you need to turn. But, if you’re staying back and planning your turn carefully, you are less likely to end up in a collision.
Another point to consider is that weather can affect large vehicles differently to how it affects other vehicles. This is why it is so important to practise safer driving techniques, whether it is raining, snowing or blowing a gale.
Improving Driver Safety and Reducing Accidents
Not all training and regulations can prepare drivers for what may happen whilst on the job, however, investing in vehicle tracking devices such as those at Fleetsmart could reduce the risk of an accident. Vehicle tracking can act as a deterrent to drivers who may be inclined to drive dangerously.
Journey Replay can be used to identify when drivers aren’t driving safely through reports which alert the fleet manager of drivers who are speeding, accelerating too quickly or braking too harshly. With this information, you can then take the initiative to either give your drivers to reduce the risk of accidents.
The more time you spend on the roads, the better your driving techniques will become. But, here at Fleetsmart, we believe that adapting these simple techniques and bearing in mind these tips, will help you to do everything you can, to avoid accidents on the road.