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Defensive Driving Skills: 7 Tips for your next trip

Discover 7 essential defensive driving skills for truckers to ensure truck safety and prevent accidents. Learn more techniques with CRST today!
defensive driving skills

Driving an 18-wheeler is a huge responsibility. A professional truck driver must operate a massive vehicle while transporting precious cargo across hundreds of miles. That’s why defensive driving skills are critical for all truckers to prevent accidents and ensure truck safety.

1: Maintain a Safe Following Distance

Leaving plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front is crucial. At 65 mph, a loaded tractor-trailer needs over 290 feet to stop completely. Always allow at least 6 seconds between trucks – this gives you extra reaction time if the traffic suddenly slows.

2: Check Blind Spots Thoroughly

The large size of rigs severely reduces visibility. Before changing lanes or turning, diligently check blind spots by turning your head to get the full picture. Properly adjust side mirrors to optimize visibility and minimize dangerous blind spots.

3: Allow Extra Space for Turns

A truck with a trailer needs much more room when maneuvering. Wait until you have sufficient clearance at intersections before starting your turn. Avoid tight turns when possible to eliminate rollover risks. Use signals early so others understand your intentions.

4: Follow Defensive Driving Best Practices

Watch what other vehicles do and give extra space to distracted or aggressive drivers. Never linger in another vehicle’s blind spots. Identify alternative escape routes in case quick evasive maneuvers become necessary. These defensive techniques greatly reduce accident risks and improve truck safety.

5: Understand Jackknifing Risk Factors

A jackknifed truck is extremely hazardous. Allow ample stopping distance, especially in slick conditions. Never abruptly turn the wheel while braking aggressively. Knowing these dynamics helps avoid jackknifes.

6: Check your breaks before you go

Before hitting the road, it’s crucial to ensure your brakes are in top condition. Conduct a thorough brake check to avoid potential hazards during your trip. Inspect the brake pads and discs for wear and tear, and make sure the brake fluid is at the appropriate level. This preventive measure helps prevent brake failure and ensures your safety. Be cautious of load shifts while performing this check; ensure your vehicle is parked securely and on a flat surface to avoid any movement that could compromise your inspection. Also check your brake lights to ensure they are visible and functioning correctly. Regular brake checks are essential for maintaining control and safety on the road.

7: Stay Centered in Your Lane

Letting your truck drift between lanes or onto road shoulders significantly increases rollover risks. If available, use lane departure tech to keep your rig precisely centered. Staying focused on lane position precision prevents single-vehicle wrecks.

Master Essential Skills Today

Mastering these essential defensive driving skills enables truckers to prevent crashes and safely deliver cargo, enhancing overall truck safety. Look at our continuing education topics for safety on the road to protect yourself, other motorists, and precious cargo. With comprehensive training in these defensive techniques, you will exemplify trucking safety excellence on every trip.