Defensive driving skills can help keep you safe and accident-free while on the roads. While many professional truck drivers have this skill, many of the motorists you share the roadways with don’t.

When you maintain your safe driving distance, other’s see it as an opportunity to get into your lane. You are tailgated because people don’t realize the dangers of the blind spot behind the truck. Worse yet, you are often caught on the roadways with inexperienced and distracted drivers.

Stay Alert

Paying attention to everything happening on the roadways around you is the most valuable defensive driving skill you can develop. Staying alert and paying attention to the habits of the drivers around you can help you avoid some nasty situations on the roadways. Being aware of what is happening, and what could potentially happen around you, helps you remain in control of the situation and reduces your risk of becoming involved in an accident.

Assume Everyone Else on the Roadways is an Idiot

In 1896 when there were only 4 cars registered in the United States – two of them collided with each other. Accident rates have continued to climb from there. In Canada there is an average of 307 accidents per day; in the U.S. this number is 16,438.

Assuming that everyone else on the roadways with you is an idiot is harsh, but with the accident stats so high, can you really afford not to? Changing your perception of the drivers around you can further help you fine tune your defensive driving skills.

Instead of assuming that the driver beside you will leave your following distance intact, assume that he, or she, will be an idiot who will decide to claim that space as their own. Are you prepared to be cut off? Where will you put the truck? If you need to break hard, is there someone tailgating you? Are the motorists around you paying attention to what is happening around them, or are they texting or applying makeup?

In order to avoid an accident when this inevitably happens, you need to know the answers to these questions before you get cut off so that you can react to the situation quickly and safely.

As a professional truck driver, you need to remain in control at all times and that means knowing what is happening around you. The best drivers on the roads are always planning for the worst case scenario because they always assume they are surrounded by idiots. They have an exit strategy – an empty space (the shoulder, pull-offs, a field, median etc.) where they will put the truck in the case of emergency. A place the mitigates the risk to the driver and the motorists around them.