Importance of Defensive Driving

Originally published 02/28/2018

Driving from one location to another is a routine part of daily activities in construction. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most hazardous activities. According to the National Safety Council, traffic crashes are the leading cause of all work-related fatalities in the United States.

Despite this sobering statistic, the fact remains that many traffic-related accidents can be avoided when we make safe driving practices a part of their day-to-day routine. Understanding the importance of defensive driving and committing to it can go a long way toward preventing and reducing injury on the road.

Here are a few tips to help you drive safely and defensively:

  1. 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.
  2. Expect other drivers to make mistakes and anticipate them.
  3. Drive the speed limit. Drivers must honor the speed limits. In adverse driving conditions, reduce speed to a safe operating speed that is consistent with the conditions of the road, weather, lighting and volume of traffic. Tires can hydroplane on wet pavement at speeds as low as 40 mph.
  4. Always use your seat belt appropriately. Position the lap belt across the upper thighs and the diagonal belt across the chest.
  5. When in doubt, yield. Drivers must yield the right of way at all traffic signals, emergency vehicles, and signs. Drivers should also be prepared to yield for safety’s sake at any time. Pedestrians and bicycles in the roadways always have the right of way.
  6. Stop on red. The leading cause of intersection collisions is running the red light. Be alert of other vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists when approaching intersections. Never speed through an intersection on a caution light. When the traffic light turns green, look both ways for oncoming traffic before proceeding.
  7. Avoid backing where possible. When backing is necessary, keep the distance traveled to a minimum and be particularly careful. Check behind your vehicle before backing. Back to the driver’s side. Do not back around a corner or into an area of no visibility.
  8. Use your blinkers. Make your lane changes and turns predictable and smooth, and always signal in advance.
  9. 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 three second rule is the idea that your car should pass a fixed object three seconds after the car ahead of you when the driving conditions are good. Leave more space in inclement weather.
  10. Don’t drive after or while consuming alcohol or using drugs.
  11. 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.
  12. Make sure your tires are in good shape and inflated properly.
  13. Use your mirrors.
  14. Stay alert and take breaks when needed. According to the National Sleep Foundation, driving while drowsy can be as dangerous as driving while drunk.
  15. When passing or changing lanes, view the entire vehicle in your rear-view mirror before pulling back into that lane. When passing or merging into traffic, always look to your left and rear, allowing you to see vehicles that may be in your blind spot.
  16. Drive courteously to avoid confrontations with other drivers.
  17. Keep calm and enjoy the journey.

Your life, and the lives of others, depends on your ability to drive safely and defensively.

Download the recording form here.

Safety for the Changing Seasons

Originally published 11/08/2017

As the weather gets colder and winter draws near, it’s time to start thinking about taking extra safety precautions when outdoors – whether driving or working on the job site.

Prepare for driving in cold weather.

  • You may find frost and ice on roadways and bridges in the morning. Give yourself some extra time for that drive to work. Keep in mind that bridges and overpasses freeze first.
  • Drive defensively. Watch out for other drivers who may be driving too fast for conditions or have lost control of their vehicles.
  • Make sure your vehicle’s antifreeze is adequate for the temperature.
  • Keep an ice scraper; a shovel; jumper cables; some sand, kitty litter or traction mats and a blanket in your vehicle.
  • Check the tread on your tires. If it’s less than 1/8 of an inch, consider replacing the tires.
  • Check the air tanks on your truck and make sure liquid isn’t building up. Over the winter, air brake lines can freeze if the air tanks aren’t drained.

Dress for working in cold weather.

  • Wear layers of clothing. Many layers of thin garments trap heat better than a few thick ones. You can always discard a layer if it gets warmer.
  • Consider wearing a liner in your hard hat.
  • Consider wearing headbands or hooded jackets to protect your ears.
  • Keep clothes clean and dry.
  • Wear water-resistant boots.
  • Wear windproof outer layers.
  • Wear cotton close to the body.
  • Wear gloves with liners if possible.
  • Consider wearing an extra pair of socks for added warmth.
  • Make sure your safety vest is clean and in good repair. As the days get shorter, early, low-light conditions make it very difficult for passing drivers, equipment operators and other co-workers to see you.

Take additional precautions against cold weather.

  • When possible, take breaks in warm areas.
  • When possible, use approved warming devices. Be cautious of carbon monoxide build up when indoors.
  • Use the buddy system and check on each other regularly.
  • Be cautious of ice buildup on the jobsite. Slip and fall injuries can occur suddenly.
  • When possible, schedule work to avoid being exposed to high-wind conditions.
  • When possible, consider working with your back to the wind.

The best time to prepare for the cold is before you are exposed. Think ahead and be prepared for conditions.

Download the recording form here.

Why Seat Belts?

Originally published 10/17/2017

Do you drive a vehicle for your company, or operate a piece of heavy equipment on the construction site? If so, do you wear your seat belt?

  • People give all kinds of reasons for not wearing a seat belt.
  • “They’re uncomfortable.”
  • “I’m a good driver.”
  • “I don’t need to because my vehicle has air bags.”
  • “They wrinkle my clothes.”
  • “I’m afraid of getting stuck in the vehicle after a crash.”
  • And many more.

Seat belts promote safety by keeping you from hitting the windshield, being thrown from a vehicle, or banging around inside the vehicle and hitting the steering wheel or door if you’re in an accident.

In off-road equipment, your seat belt is foremost designed to keep you in your seat in case of a tip-over. Normal human behavior is to try to jump when a piece of equipment starts to tip. The problem is, you can’t get away from the machine fast enough and the machine will most likely end up crushing you at the head, neck, shoulders or chest. So in a tip-over, you want to wear your seat belt, keep your hands and feet in the cab, lean away from the point of impact and ride it out.

Before you get in your vehicle, know your surroundings. Are there steep slopes or unstable ground?

Inspect your seat belts. Look for broken, missing or frayed belts or damaged belt buckles, and report any problems to your supervisor. Do not use the equipment or drive the vehicle until the seat belts are operating properly.

When you put on your seat belt, be sure to wear it properly. Don’t put the strap under your arm or behind your back. Be sure to cinch the belt tight so that it surrounds your torso and fits snugly.

Be sure the equipment is completely turned off, the parking brake is engaged and the equipment is parked on a level, stable surface before you remove your seat belt.

If your company doesn’t have a seat belt policy, talk to a supervisor about setting one. If you make it a point to buckle up every time you get in a vehicle, eventually you won’t even have to think about it. It will be a habit – a habit that could help you avoid serious injury or even death. Remember, it’s up to you to make safe decisions.

Download the recording form here.

Defensive Driving

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Expect other drivers to make mistakes and anticipate them.
  3. Slow down. The faster you travel, the longer it takes to stop, and the bigger the impact when you crash.
  4. Always use your seat belt appropriately. Position the lap belt across the upper thighs and the diagonal belt across the chest.
  5. 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.
  6. Stop on red. The leading cause of intersection collisions is running the red light.
  7. Use your blinkers. Make your lane changes and turns predictable and smooth, and always signal in advance.
  8. 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.
  9. Don’t drive after or while consuming alcohol or using drugs.
  10. 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.
  11. Make sure your tires are in good shape and inflated properly.
  12. Use your mirrors.
  13. 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.
  14. Keep calm and enjoy the journey.

Your life, and the lives of others, depends on your ability to drive safely and defensively.

Download the recording form here.