People judge us by our actions. They form opinions about us, and sometimes our company, when they watch us work. There is perhaps no more powerful image builder than the way we drive.
How many times have you witnessed a truck driver cut someone off as they made a wide turn, or totally block traffic when they parked without using warning signs? These, and other actions (whether good or bad), influence our impressions of a driver and his company. In our society, where people can capture images with smart phones and upload them via social media, millions of people can see a posted photo instantly. We can refer to the impressions these photos (and sometimes comments) produce as brand impact. Anything that produces a negative impression of a company will hurt business.
When you’re driving a company vehicle, keep in mind that you represent the company, and people are watching. To leave a positive impression, practice defensive driving. Be aware of what others are doing, and adjust your driving techniques.
Defensive driving is based on three factors: visibility, space and communication.
- Visibility is about seeing and being seen. Be aware of the traffic behind, beside and in front of you. Constantly scan the road ahead and to the side. Check your mirrors every five seconds. Use your lights as required. This will help you avoid hazards.
- Managing the space around your vehicle will help you avoid a collision. Maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. Tailgating is a sure way to create discomfort in other drivers and can easily result in a collision, if the driver in front has to stop quickly.
- Communicate with other road users. Make eye contact with pedestrians, cyclists and drivers at intersections. Signal whenever you want to slow down, stop, turn or change lanes. If you need to get another person’s attention, use your horn.
Finally, get to know your vehicle before you drive it. Some vehicles have different systems than you’re used to, like ignition systems, anti-lock brakes, four-wheel drive and systems for traction and stability control.
- Read the owner’s manual. Make sure you know where all the controls and instruments are and what they do.
- Practice using wipers and washers, headlights, high beams, heater and defroster, so you can operate them without taking your eyes off the road.
- Check and adjust your mirrors. Find your blind spots. Many accidents happen when people change lanes and don’t see the person, cyclist or vehicle in their blind spot.
Remember to drive defensively, and keep your company brand in mind when you drive.