March 23, 2020

Improving safety in your fleet: 10 defensive driving tips

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Spring into safety in your fleet by revisiting defensive driving best practices with your drivers.

Defensive driving empowers drivers to take control of their own behaviors to better react to other drivers around them and minimize the risk of accidents. While many companies focus on vehicle safety features, Derive included, we can all benefit from reviewing the basics to make sure we’re doing all we can to keep everyone safe on the road.

3 components of defensive driving in fleets:

  • Visibility: Drivers should stay alert and be aware of their surroundings and what others on the road are doing
  • Space: Drivers should keep distance between their vehicle and other vehicles as a “cushion” to avoid or escape an accident
  • Communication: Drivers should use turn signals and other forms of driver communication to share driver intent and upcoming lane changes

Defensive driving is the first line of defense in keeping your fleet’s drivers safe and reducing accidents. While today’s technology is great at improving safety in fleets, it’s important that drivers know what to do if that technology isn’t fully functioning and how they can be accountable for their behaviors behind the wheel.

Remind drivers of the importance of defensive driving and share these 10 best practices with them!

10 defensive driving best practices for fleet drivers

  • Look ahead: Drivers should look ahead and around for possible danger by always scanning the road and taking in information, as well as checking mirrors constantly.
  • Check the speed: Drivers need to be aware of the speed limit and how fast their vehicle is moving. Not only is staying within the speed limit smart for your drivers to keep themselves and other drivers safe and reducing speeding tickets, but it can also help boost your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. If you notice repeat offenders in your fleet you might want to investigate adding a speed limiter to your fleet vehicles.
  • Leave room: Reduce accidents by training drivers to leave about three car lengths or three seconds of driving time between each vehicle. Drivers should remember to add more distance between themselves and others on the road when conditions are poor, like in snow, rain, or fog. If drivers must pass others they should do as quickly and safely as possible to avoid driving in others’ blind spots.
  • Buckle up: Drivers should always, always use their seat belts when driving, whether that’s in their fleet vehicle or a personal one. Our seat belt compliance safety feature requires drivers to be strapped in before they can drive off, and many telematics solutions offer the capability of tracking seat belt use.
  • Communicate: Tell drivers to use turn signals, hand signals, horns, or even the vehicle’s lights to signal intent as they maneuver through traffic.
  • Avoid distractions: Drivers need to avoid distractions in their vehicles, like cell phones, touchscreen navigation, or even other passengers. Read more on distracted driving prevention here!
  • Be alert: Drowsy driving is a big fleet safety problem that many managers are looking to address. With electronic logging of HOS, fleet managers are getting better at tracking driver time and making sure drivers are getting enough rest between logging miles. Remind drivers to pull over if they get tired and have a plan in place in case it’s no longer safe for them to drive.
  • Know the vehicle: Drivers should be comfortable in their vehicle and know its normal operating conditions so they can identify if there are any issues with the vehicle’s engine, brakes, tires, or installed safety features. Drivers should always check their vehicle before each trip and know some basic maintenance to get back on the road.
  • Be prepared: Drivers need to be prepared to react quickly and safely to traffic pattern changes, speed limit changes, and other drivers’ behaviors. Drivers should keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times and continually scanning the road. Load up the vehicle with a road safety kit, cell phone, cell phone charger, bottles of water, snacks, and anything else they may need in an emergency.
  • Upgrade the vehicle: There are many options today to improve the safety of your vehicle, and as we say around the Derive offices: Manage your vehicle, not your drivers. Help them achieve safer driving by installing speed limiters, purchasing vehicles with blind-spot detection, lane assistance, anti-lock brakes, and upgrading your telematics to include Distracted Driver Prevention and seat belt compliance.

Want to dive deeper into fleet safety? Download your free copy of our ebook: Improving fleet safety!

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