Originally published 09/13/2017
The National Safety Council cites motor vehicle collisions as the leading cause of death and injury in the workplace, including construction. One way to help reduce motor vehicle collisions is to drive defensively.
The standard Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations, ANSI/ASSE Z15.1 defines defensive driving skills as “driving to save lives, time and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.”
Getting behind the wheel of a car or truck may seem commonplace, but it is likely the most dangerous thing you will do all day. Although you can’t control the actions of other motorists, you have great deal of control over how you operate your own vehicle. Here are a few tips to help you drive safely and defensively.
- Focus on the task at hand. Texting, phone conversations, eating, drinking, adjusting the heat or air conditioning, and engaging in discussions can distract you as you drive and lead to accidents.
- Expect other drivers to make mistakes and anticipate them.
- Slow down. The faster you travel, the longer it takes to stop, and the bigger the impact when you crash.
- Always use your seat belt appropriately. Position the lap belt across the upper thighs and the diagonal belt across the chest.
- When in doubt, yield. If you aren’t certain who has the right of way, yield. Even if you know you have the right of way, if another driver seems to disagree, give in.
- Stop on red. The leading cause of intersection collisions is running the red light.
- Use your blinkers. Make your lane changes and turns predictable and smooth, and always signal in advance.
- Don’t tailgate. Leave adequate space between you and the car in front of you to ensure your safety if you both have to stop quickly. The two second rule is the idea that your car should pass a fixed object two seconds after the car ahead of you when the driving conditions are good. Leave more space in inclement weather.
- Don’t drive after or while consuming alcohol or using drugs.
- Adjust for inclement weather. Wet, slick pavement increases your brake time. Do not use cruise control on wet or icy roads. Add extra space between your car and the one in front of you.
- Make sure your tires are in good shape and inflated properly.
- Use your mirrors.
- Stay alert and take breaks when needed. According to the National Sleep Foundation, driving while drowsy can be as dangerous as driving while drunk. According to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drowsy drivers are involved in an estimated 21% of fatal crashes.
- Keep calm and enjoy the journey.
Your life, and the lives of others, depends on your ability to drive safely and defensively.