Safety Awareness: Defensive Driving

August 08, 2019

Driving an automobile exists as one of the most dangerous tasks performed each day. In the United States, automobile accidents rank as one of the leading causes of death. Depending on location and vehicle type, statistics may be higher.

  • A person dies in an automobile accident every 11 minutes.
  • One in four work-related fatalities involve a motor vehicle accident.
  • Distracted driving kills an average of 9 people and injures more than 1,000 daily.
  • Someone incurs an injury in an automobile accident every 18 seconds.
  • In 2017, Alabama reported a traffic crash every 200 seconds.

Although actions of other motorists cannot be controlled, drivers have a great deal of control over vehicle operation. Because driving a vehicle occurs as a job requirement for many people, defensive driving becomes a full-time job. Defensive driving includes looking out for mistakes of other drivers. Further, drivers must learn to maintain and operate vehicles in a manner that avoids contributing to an accident or being involved in a preventable accident.

Because drivers cannot control the actions of other drivers, knowing some defensive driving tips can be beneficial. Here are just a few:

  • Anticipating traffic situations along the road.
  • Always use turn signals.
  • Never drive under the influence of drugs, alcohol or other substances.
  • Slowing down sooner and applying the brakes immediately upon detection of a potential hazard.
  • During bad weather or at night, reduce speed and increase following distance.
  • Not waiting on the appearance of brake lights ahead. Always scan ahead for hazards and changing conditions.
  • Applying the brakes gradually to avoid spinning, grinding or stopping quickly, creating a risk of a rear-end collision.
  • Anticipating incorrect actions of other drivers in time to take preventative actions. Assume others will run red lights, stop signs and commit additional driving violations.
  • Focusing on the task of driving. Avoid distractions by storing away any cell phone or other mobile device.
  • Always wear a seat belt. The National Safety Council says seat belts reduce the risk of injury in a crash by 50%.
  • Avoid road rage. For optimum safety disregard other vehicles engaging in unacceptable driving patterns.

Establishing a company policy for defensive driving assists employees with developing awareness for different situations on the road. Click here for an example of a defensive driving policy with procedures to implement. Additional resources such as videos, 2-minute briefings, handouts, and other materials are also available at the Online Safety Library. Remember, drive defensively and practice safety. Do not learn by accident.