Plan to Drive Defensively

  1. Think Bigger (Think outside of the box – "What if?")
  • Scan your mirrors every 3 – 5 seconds
  • Emphasize situational awareness
  • Anticipate others’ driving errors
  • Always have a "plan B" (Play "what if" and always plan a way out of potential trouble.)
  1. Look Further(How far down the road can you see?)
  • Scan 10-12 seconds down the road
  • Keep eyes on the road; do not text, talk on cell phone or operate computers, etc. while driving. Always remember: The mile that you are in is the most dangerous mile that you will ever drive.
  • An automobile "look-ahead capacity" is limited as the driver’s eye height is much lower to the ground than that of truck driver’s.
  1. Be a Space Manager (Don’t get trapped, leave space cushion on all 4 sides of vehicle.)
  • Ideal conditions; 5-7 second following distance, depending upon vehicle and load
  • Maintain minimum following distance of 1 sec. per 10’ of vehicle length
  • At speeds over 40 mph add another second.
  • Increase following distance and reduce speed in adverse driving conditions
  • Allow adequate stopping distance;
  • Perception time (.75 sec) + reaction time (.75 sec) = 1.5 sec
  • At 55 mph (81 fps), 1.5 sec = 121 feet travelled until brakes are engaged
  • Brake lag = ½ sec or 40 feet
  • Add braking distance = 264’ (fully loaded CMV under ideal driving conditions)
  • Total stopping distance = 425 (> football field including end zones!)
  1. Assume You are Invisible (Signal to Others Early and Often!)
  • Anticipate other drivers’ incorrect decisions and driving maneuvers
  • Allow other drivers to anticipate and react to your driving decisions
  • Panic maneuvers are result of failure to plan and anticipate
  • Ensure all lights, signals, reflectors, horn and emergency equipment are present and function. Wipe off lights, markers and conspicuity tape with rag during walk-arounds.
  1. Maneuver Decisively (Decide your actions in advance!)
  • Learn not to second guess your decisions, trust your instincts
  • Do not change your mind in a split second; make your decisions in advance of the maneuver

Driving is a "con" game; work hard at developing your driving skills; have confidence in your ability; but never become complacent or over-confident.