Fleet Vehicle Safety & Driver Safety

Defensive Driving

RIGHT-OF-WAY - Generally the driver who arrives last gives right-of-way to those who were already there. You give right-of-way when entering traffic. You give right-of-way when turning left in front of approaching traffic. You give right-of-way when changing lanes. You move into your intended path or direction only after you are assured you will not conflict with other traffic.

START-UP/BACK-UP - During a typical start-up/back-up situation, a vehicle has been parked for a long enough time to allow pedestrians and other vehicles to approach and rest within a few feet of the parked vehicle. Starting up forward, backward, or steering left or right from a stopped position can create an unexpected hazard for both the driver and bystanders.

NEGOTIATING CURVES - When negotiating a curve at an excessive speed, commercial motor vehicles will roll over. Automobiles will lose traction and slide out of a curve instead of rolling over. The more top-heavy a vehicle is, the more likely it will roll over than slide out of a curve. During a tractor-trailer rollover, the trailer usually begins to roll before the tractor. By the time the driver realizes that the trailer is rolling, there is not much that can be done to prevent a complete rollover.

PASSING - Safe passing maneuvers require well developed skills and judgment. Passing tasks include checking sight distance ahead, checking mirrors for rear traffic, checking for traffic passing you, estimating speed and position of approaching vehicles; estimating time you need to safely pass, accelerating, steering, checking for traffic entering from side roads, etc. Because the driver must perform several tasks in a short time during passing, the chance of an error is high, unless the maneuver is done cautiously. Because it sometimes takes a long time before an opportunity to pass safely arises, some drivers take risks and assume other drivers will compensate for their own aggressiveness.

TURNING LEFT AND RIGHT - Making left or right turns with long vehicles creates problems that automobile drivers do not have. Blind spots make it difficult to see other vehicles. Vehicle length forces drivers to make wide turns, encroaching upon adjacent lanes of traffic. Improper tracking of vehicles makes it difficult for the driver to judge position. Turning takes longer to complete, thus increasing exposure time to hazards. Drivers should recognize the hazards created while turning and follow proper procedures to minimize them.

CROSSING INTERSECTIONS - Crossing intersections with long vehicles presents problems that automobile drivers do not have. Because of their length and their slow acceleration, trucks and buses take much more time to cross and clear intersecting roads than do automobiles. Also, at night, the sides of long vehicles may not be conspicuous to approaching drivers. Drivers of large vehicles must recognize these problems and take special care when crossing intersections, particularly when they are uncontrolled intersections.

USING AND CHANGING LANES - Lane use and lane changing accidents primarily result from following too closely or being inattentive to traffic conditions ahead. In either case, defensive driving is the most effective countermeasure. Lane use and lane changing accidents primarily involve sideswiping and rear-end collisions. The existence of blind spots around large vehicles is a major contributing factor. Maintain a proper following distance and take note of countermeasures involving right-of-way.

PARKING - Parking on or partially on a travel lane creates a hazard. This is especially true at night. On congested metropolitan streets, drivers expect to see parked vehicles in their lane and are usually ready to react and avoid them. On rural and high-speed roads, drivers do not expect to see vehicles parked in their lane. Their attention level may be lower and they may not be able to react quickly enough to avoid a collision.

NEGOTIATING DOWNGRADES - The main reason for loss of control on downgrades is brake failure, and the main reason for this is the use of improper control techniques by the driver. The brake system may be damaged or maladjusted and may not have sufficient capacity for downgrade control. Primary countermeasures for preventing a runaway are: adequate driver skills; frequent checks on brake operation; adequate preventive maintenance.

DRIVING IN ADVERSE CONDITIONS - Failure to adjust to adverse conditions is a major factor in accident causation. The adverse conditions most frequently encountered cause reduced traction and reduced visibility. Reduced traction conditions include rain, snow, ice, slush and gravel. Reduced visibility conditions include twilight, darkness, rain, snow and fog. Drivers should not only develop the skills and judgment necessary to keep their own vehicle safely under control, they should also try to anticipate and be prepared to compensate for errors other drivers make during such poor driving conditions.

EMERGENCY EQUIPMENT AND PROCEDURES - Emergency situations include stalling in a travel lane, stopping for an accident in your path, engine compartment fire, wheel fire, burned-out light bulbs, blown fuse in lighting circuit, etc. Having emergency equipment available in your vehicle and knowing how to use it will greatly assist you in avoiding hazards that arise in these types of situations.

PEDESTRIAN INTERACTION - Most pedestrian accidents occur when the pedestrian walks onto a roadway and into the path of an approaching vehicle. Pedestrians often misjudge the speed and closeness of a commercial motor vehicle. Pedestrians assume you can and will slow down for them. Pedestrians think that because they can see you, you can see them. These kinds of errors in judgment are why pedestrian accidents frequently occur. Drivers should try to anticipate pedestrians making such errors and be prepared to compensate.

PASSENGER MANAGEMENT - Passengers can distract the driver. Passengers can physically interfere with the driver. Passengers can restrict the driver's freedom to maneuver aggressively for accident avoidance. Passengers can injure themselves by not sitting properly in designated seating positions. Whatever the case, the driver must manage the passengers to avoid such problems.


A preventable vehicle accident is one which occurs because the driver fails to act in a reasonably expected manner to prevent it. In judging whether the driver's actions were reasonable, one seeks to determine whether the driver drove defensively and demonstrated an acceptable level of skill and knowledge. The judgment of what is reasonable can be based on a company-adopted definition, establishing a goal for the vehicle safety management programs. The great majority of preventable vehicle accidents can be shown to be directly related to the performance of the driver. It is therefore extremely productive to any fleet safety program to have a careful new driver selection and adequate monitoring procedures for existing drivers.

Safe driving recognition or incentive programs should be an integral part of a formal fleet safety program. Such programs identify superior driving performance and set forth the selected drivers as examples to be emulated by the rest of the fleet. Such programs can be generated internally within the company or through participation in national safe driver award programs conducted by associations such as the National Safety Council or the American Trucking Associations.

Driving is a profession requiring skill, knowledge, physical and mental health and character integrity. Public safety and company reputation requires that drivers be fully qualified. Drivers who are not qualified should receive remedial training or be terminated if they cannot be brought up to the necessary level of competence.

It has been well documented that drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs have been involved in about half of all fatal traffic accidents. Drinking or substance abuse by drivers of alcohol or drugs cannot be tolerated. Company management must be acutely aware of the seriousness of this societal problem and establish procedures to effectively control it within their respective organizations.

Everyone understands how ill or fatigued drivers can be a hazard to themselves and others. Nonetheless, drivers sometimes push their bodies beyond reasonable limits and become a hazard anyway. This is why comprehensive federal regulations have been established. In addition to being law, these regulations are useful guides to both the driver and his supervisors in defining reasonable, sensible limitations on when medical conditions or duty status calls for rest and no driving.

Fleet safe driving performance is dependent on management commitment to the implementation of a formal fleet safety program. An effective safety program will interact with most aspects of fleet operations and challenge the skills and knowledge of its supervisors and drivers.

The company driver manual is a key communication link between the company and its drivers. It conveniently brings together information about the company, its policies and procedures. It is indispensable for training new drivers and is a handy reference for existing drivers. The manual should be progressively developed and continually updated.

All materials in the members area for this topic index

Program Material

Programs (written)
MS-WORD Defensive Driving Policy Safety Program
MS-WORD Defensive Driving Safety Program
MS-WORD Drug Free Workplace Safety Program
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Conspicuity Requirements
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Haz Trans Plan
MS-WORD Fleet Safety Program
MS-WORD Vehicle Safety Program
Program Development
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Cargo Securement
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Caution Letter
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Cdl Fact Sheet
MS-WORD Fleet Driver D A Testrates
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Hazmat Security
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Veh Acc Def Driving
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Veh Acc Pre Eval
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Veh Pre Maint
Fact Sheets
MS-WORD Driver Hazards Loading Unloading Safety Topic Fact Sheet
MS-WORD Drugfree Companypolicy
MS-WORD Drugfree Recognizing Problem
MS-WORD Drugfree Testing Types
MS-WORD Fleet Driver 2012 Hos Regulations
MS-WORD Fleet Driver 2013 DOT Cdl Hours Of Service Summary
MS-WORD Fleet Driver 2013 Hos Comparison
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Conspicuity Images
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Drug Alcohol Rules
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Fleetwksheet Read
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Form Commercial Vehicle Pre Trip Inspection
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Fuel Island Spill
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Fuel Spill Road
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Fueling
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Hazmat Trans
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Law Alert
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Managing Security
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Security
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Trainer Lifting Tarp
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Truck Driver Stretches
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Truck Markings
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Us DOT Drug And Alcohol Testing Training
MS-WORD Suspension Trailer Inspection Safety Topic Fact Sheet

Forms & Documents

MS-WORD Drug Free Workplace Program Checklist
MS-WORD Vehicle Safety Supervisor Safety Checklist
MS-EXCEL Fleet Driver Fleet Wksheet Samp
MS-EXCEL Fleet Driver Fleet Wksheet
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Haz Placards
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Pre Trip
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Veh Ws Use
MS-WORD Suspension Trailer Inspection Form
MS-WORD Vehicle Accident Report Analysis Worksheet Form
MS-WORD Transporting Employees And Materials Inspection General Form

Training Material

Accident Reports
MS-WORD Fleet Driver ACC Awning
MS-WORD Fleet Driver ACC Brake Failure
MS-WORD Fleet Driver ACC Disconnect
MS-WORD Fleet Driver ACC Fatal Grade
MS-WORD Fleet Driver ACC Following
MS-WORD Fleet Driver ACC Gas Fire
MS-WORD Fleet Driver ACC Lowbed
MS-WORD Fleet Driver ACC Sedated
MS-WORD Fleet Driver ACC Utility Fatal
MS-WORD Fleet Driver ACC Wrong
MS-WORD Powerline And Truck Ladder Electrical
MS-WORD Transportation Worker Overhead Power Line Electrical Accident
MS-WORD Truck Driver Crane Electrical Accident
MS-WORD Truck Driver Unloading Material Electrical Accident
Crossword Puzzle
MS-WORD Driving Crossword Answer Key
MS-WORD Driving Crossword
MS-WORD Dump Truck Safety
MS-WORD Fleet Driver ACC Prevention 2014
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Daydreaming
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Lifting Training Handout
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Medical Questionnaires
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Safety Rules
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Slip Flyer
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Why Safety Belt
MS-WORD US DOT Drug And Alcohol Testing Training Handout
MS-WORD Drugfree
MS-WORD Drugfree Programoutlines
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Fleetsafeytoutline
MS-PPT Truck Driver Fatigue and Alertness PowerPoint Spanish
MS-PPT Truck Driver Fatigue and Alertness PowerPoint
MS-WORD 2 Minute Safety Brief Defensive Driving
MS-WORD Opps Trailor Loading Talk
OnLine Driving and Medication
OnLine Drowsy Driving


MS-WORD Drug Car Poster
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Hijacking Brochure
MS-WORD Fleet Driver Hijacking Poster
MS-WORD Focus On Safety Poster
MS-WORD Marijuana Poster



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