Surveying your surroundings is a critical part of safe driving. Not doing so is referred to as inadequate surveillance, which according to the FMCSA, means a driver is in a situation where they’re required to look to safely complete a maneuver and either fails to look in the appropriate place or looks, but does not see. This mainly refers to situations like changing lanes or turning at intersections, but can be applied to all situations that might come up during travel. Did you know that the Large Truck Crash Causation Study found that 14% of large truck crashes were a result of inadequate surveillance? In this edition of “Top Tips for Drivers” we’re going to go over some tips that encourage awareness and alertness.
Know your “No-Zone”.
Your “No-Zone” is anywhere around your truck that crashes are more likely to occur at, most commonly your blind spots. As a CMV driver, you know that some of your blind spots can hide a passenger car completely, but not all of those passenger drivers realize that.
Be on the defense.
Driving defensively is not the same as driving aggressively, it’s actually a pretty good practice. Some defensive driving actions include keeping your distance, maintaining a safe speed, and staying alert. When you incorporate these defensive driving actions into your trip, you’ll be able to recognize any potentially dangerous situations in advance, giving you ample time to react and avoid them.
Looking far ahead is key.
It’s recommended to look at least 15 seconds (about ¼ mile on the interstate or 1 ½ city blocks) in front of you. When you look far ahead, you can respond early and smoothly to any changing conditions or other situations which might otherwise require abrupt stops or lane changes.
Fun fact: When you need to apply the brakes, it takes ¾ of a second for your brain to send the signal to your foot, your foot to move from the gas pedal to the brake pedal, and then actually apply the brakes. You can actually travel up to 60 feet during this period of time.
Check it out!
Your mirrors, that is. And better yet, do it regularly. Just be sure to do it quickly, getting your eyes back on the road as quickly as possible. Mirrors don’t just help you out during lane changes, turns, or merges, they can also keep you aware and up to date on the traffic conditions around you if you check them regularly.
Intersections require extra caution.
You know the deal: look left, right, then left again. When you do this quickly, you’ll have enough time to see any oncoming vehicles (or that you’re all clear to go).
Don’t let inadequate surveillance get the best of you. Always use your best judgement, common sense, and training in addition to these tips. Check out our other blog posts to find more useful tips and tricks for truckers!