Risk Management expert Sean Purcell recently revealed the truth behind distracted driving myths and reviewed three driver monitoring systems. A major takeaway: Employee training and clear expectations about safety behind the wheel are critical to a company’s overall safety culture.

Here, Sean offers 10 driving lessons that a company can incorporate into its driving policy and training or share with workers as a reminder. Remember, vehicle safety begins before anyone even enters a vehicle and requires ongoing attention.

Before Your Drive

1. Make a pre-trip inspection.

Check each of these items to make sure your vehicle is ready to hit the road:

  • Cargo is properly distributed and adequately secured
  • All securement equipment and vehicle structures are in good working order
  • No materials impair visibility through any vehicle windows or in mirrors
  • No materials interfere with the ability to drive the vehicle or respond in an emergency

On the Road

2. Avoid distracted driving.

Distracted driving is the No. 1 cause of vehicle crashes in the United States, making up 25 percent of all accidents. Don’t give up the ability to influence a safe outcome by turning your attention to other activities. Read our full article on distracted driving here.

3. Practice defensive driving.

The standard of Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations defines defensive driving as “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.” Defensive driving is another safety measure to incorporate, just like hard hats, gloves, masks, and harnesses.

4. Prevent driver fatigue.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Association estimates that 200,000 to 400,000 collisions occur annually because of driver fatigue. Fatigue can often be caused by sleep deprivation, changes in body rhythms, and new medications. If you begin work early in summer hours to avoid the heat, think about how this will affect your sleep schedule. If you begin a new medicine, ensure you’ve checked that you are OK to operate machinery.

5. Protect yourself from rear-end collisions.

Begin by leaving a minimum of four seconds of space behind another car. Increase this space when pulling trailers, driving in bad weather, and traveling at high speed. Ample distance is essential for reaction and braking. Keep your eyes on the road and scan the area ahead.

6. Protect yourself from intersection collisions.

Intersections are controlled chaos. Routinely, drivers make competing decisions. In a hurry, we all push the limit of a traffic signal when trying to make a light. Use a four-second delay prior to taking off at intersections to prevent collisions with drivers running lights.

7. Protect yourself during left turns.

When turning left, react to protected signals as cautiously as you would an unprotected green light. As you edge into the intersection, keep your wheels straight. In the case of a rear-end collision, straight wheels will keep your vehicle from turning left into the oncoming traffic.

After an Incident

8. Follow proper accident reporting.

When an accident occurs, it is it normal to be shaken, but never admit guilt. You do not need to be held responsible for what someone thought they heard or what you meant to stay. Instead, call in the accident to 911. This ensures proper care is available for passengers, who are the No. 1 priority. Because of liability issues, do not render aid yourself; instead, allow trained responders to help. Then call your manager or supervisor, who can direct your actions at the scene and with the authorities.

9. Safely address roadside breakdowns.

Remember NAPA:

  • Note your vehicle location
  • Assess the situation
  • Pull vehicle off the road
  • Alert other vehicles by using emergency equipment

If you choose to exit the vehicle, do so safely and well away from oncoming traffic. Once you and any passengers are in a safe location, notify others of your breakdown.

Exiting the Vehicle

10. Practice preventative vehicle maintenance.

Inspect each vehicle at the end of every trip.

Check for:

  • Tire and wheel condition
  • Non-working lights and turn signals
  • Non-working seat belts
  • Non-latching doors or hood
  • Cracked or dirty windshield or mirrors
  • Dirty headlight lenses
  • Non-working or deteriorated windshield wipers

For further training on these topics, Builders Mutual offers a Driver Training Program as part of Builders University.

Content reviewed 8-2021.