Stopping Distance / Following Time
Perhaps the best known defensive driving technique is to “Slow Down and Increase Following Distance.” A non-professional driver might think this is just hyperbole if they have not been taught, or have forgotten the correct method of calculating “following distance.”
Understand that your stopping distances can increase by as much as a factor of ten. Your normal stopping distance from 30mph can increase from 100 feet to as much as 1000 feet if you are on wet ice. To compensate, reduce your speed and increase your following distances by at least 2 to 3 seconds.
It’s not just the driving conditions – but how we react to them – or don’t react to them that ultimately determine safety. Driving safely is an attitude we adopt every time we get behind the wheel.
U-turns are never a safe option and are particularly dangerous at night or in areas of limited visibility.
Visibility and Blind Spots
Collisions can occur as a motorist comes out of a curve only to realize too late that there is a vehicle ahead of them crossing their path of travel making a left hand turn. After looking Left – Right – Left, proceed into the intersection only when absolutely certain there is no oncoming traffic hidden behind mirrors or other blind spots such as traffic signs, poles, buildings, trees or other landscaping features.
Visibility (the illusion of)
Instead of assuming that everyone can see us and expecting them to adjust to our presence, maybe we need to consider that we are driving "invisible trucks" and act as if people don't see us. By doing so, we will all become much more defensive and avoid the "accidents that should have never happened". Remember - never expect the other driver to adjust to you. Give him enough time and distance to avoid braking, swerving, or taking any other action. Become the "invisible driver" and drive like you were on a motorcycle instead of in an 80,000 lb truck.
Crosswinds of as little as 27 miles per hour can adversely affect a driver's ability to safely operate high profile CMVs. The side of the vehicle acts like a sail, making it difficult to control on the open road. The greater the surface area (height X width), the more difficult it becomes to maintain control.
Winter and Adverse Conditions
Every year, the average driver must slide through at least one traffic light or stop sign before he remembers that it is necessary to slow down and begin stopping well in advance of the intersection. If you are not prepared, they will slide into your path and another collision will go into the books. Don’t let others control your driving record!
Winter Daylight Hours
LESS WINTER DAYLIGHT = REDUCED VISIBILITY
September through January have the highest number of nationwide pedestrian fatalities, with typically fewer daylight hours and more inclement weather.
Winter Driving Safety
Year after year though, crash statistics show that the winter months of January, February and March are actually the ones with the fewest number of traffic fatalities. Summer and fall are always the highest. How can this be? Surely driving conditions are much more treacherous in winter than in the summer.
It’s not just the driving conditions – but how we react to them – that ultimately determines safety. Driving safely is an attitude we adopt every time we get behind the wheel.