Your light duty, non-CDL drivers face as much risk behind the wheel as a truck driver.
Everyone knows that driving a truck is a dangerous job. The road conditions, traffic, and amateur drivers they deal with put them at high risk of a fatal accident. The reality, though, is anyone who drives for their job faces tremendous risk. In fact, driving is the leading cause of death for sales workers and delivery drivers regardless of the vehicle they drive.
Not only is this bad for your drivers, but it hurts your company as well. Traffic accidents, no matter how small, lead to:
- Lost time
- Wasted resources
- Increased expenses
Traffic accidents cost you money and they hurt your people. It’s a no-brainer that you need to do everything you can to reduce them. So, where do you begin? One way is to help your non-CDL drivers build safe driving habits.
Why Are Safe Driving Habits Important?
This question comes down to what causes accidents. It’s not the weather, other vehicles, or anything else. People cause accidents. More specifically, people and their unsafe behaviors.
Whenever your drivers perform an unsafe behavior behind the wheel - following too closely, merging without looking, turning without a turn signal - they put themselves at risk of an accident.
They won’t have an accident every time, but it’s a numbers game. The more risk they take, the more likely they are to have an accident. This is actually good news.
If people’s unsafe behaviors didn’t cause accidents, we’d be helpless to suffer through them. Instead, if you educate your drivers on safe driving habits, they will greatly reduce their risk of a collision.
3 Essential Safe Driving Habits For Preventing Accidents
When thinking about what safe driving habits are most important, you need to think about accident frequency and severity. The more frequent an accident is, the more important it is to develop safe habits that avoid them. Similarly, if an accident is rare but extremely serious, you still should do everything you can to prevent them from happening.
Luckily, since we have dozens of years of experience in the transportation industry, we know a little bit about what safe driving habits are most important.
Here are five safe driving habits that every non-CDL, light-duty driver should know:
- Maintaining a safe following distance
- Getting out and looking before backing
- Actively looking for pedestrians and cyclists
One note before we get into the nitty-gritty of these habits: it’s easiest to talk about these if we have a common vernacular on safe driving. That’s why we always talk about safe driving in terms of LLLC: The Four Principles of Driving Safely. LLLC stands for Look Ahead, Look Around, Leave Room, and Communicate.
LLLC is easy to learn, quick to memorize, and essential for preventing accidents.
1. Maintaining a Safe Following Distance
Accidents due to improper following distance are extremely common. In fact, rear-end collisions are the most common accidents for any type of driver. Not only that, but they’re serious. Rear-end collisions, especially at high speeds, have a high risk of being fatal.
Ironically, as common as these accidents are, they’re so easy to prevent. Your drivers just need to make it a habit to Leave Room in front of them.
For light-duty vehicles such as pick-up trucks, vans, or sedans, you need at least a 3-second following distance to have enough time to stop.
You need to educate your drivers on the importance of maintaining a safe following distance. Encourage them to make it a habit to frequently check their following distance. Tell them about the dangers of following someone too closely and how much easier their job is if they leave enough room.
If your drivers make it a habit to always maintain a safe following distance, your accident numbers will plummet.
2. Getting Out And Looking Before Backing
We spend very little time backing vehicles. Even so, according to the National Safety Council, twenty-five percent of accidents result from poor backing techniques. And, backing accidents cause 500 deaths and 15,000 injuries per year.
Luckily, there’s one very easy way to prevent backing accidents: GOAL (Get Out and Look).
Your drivers need to physically get out of their vehicle and walk around it before backing. They need to be 100% sure the area around them is clear. Doing so can prevent so many backing accidents.
If you want to reduce your accidents, make GOAL a habit for your drivers.
3. Actively Looking for Pedestrian & Cyclists
Thankfully, accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists are not as common as backing or rear-end collisions. However, defensive driving habits focused on preventing collisions with these folks are extremely important.
Accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists are always serious and often fatal. They can be devastating to a company, the driver, and countless other people. As a company who puts drivers on the road, it’s your responsibility to make sure your drivers are prepared to prevent accidents with pedestrians and cyclists.
The problem is, that’s easier said than done. Studies show that drivers have a hard time detecting pedestrians and cyclists. In fact, a driver can be looking right at someone and not recognize the risk until it’s too late.
This is because we get so focused on looking for other cars, changing traffic patterns, and road conditions that we forget to look for pedestrians and cyclists too.
You need to remind your drivers to make it a habit to actively Look Ahead and Look Around for pedestrians and cyclists. Every moment they’re behind the wheel, they should be thinking about and preparing for what they will do if they see a pedestrian or cyclist.
Your drivers should:
- Look Ahead for anyone in or near the road
- Look Ahead for cyclists
- Look Ahead at intersections for anyone in the crosswalk or preparing to cross
- Look Around during turns for pedestrians and cyclists
- Be prepared to stop if they see a pedestrian or cyclist up ahead
If your drivers make these habits, they can prevent serious accidents or even save a life.
How to Educate Your Drivers on Safe Driving Habits
Those are three habits that every non-CDL driver should have to protect themselves and others. However, your drivers need to be educated on them to make a difference. How can you be sure these safe driving behaviors become routine for everyone at your company?
The easiest way is usually professionally-made training. A program such as The Fleet Safety Course makes it easy for you to educate your drivers on safe driving habits. You will be able to:
- Give your drivers access to self directed training
- Track who has been through what courses
- Train your drivers from anywhere, anytime
By investing in training, you will greatly reduce your cost of loss and become a more efficient company. Save time, save money, and save lives by investing in light-duty vehicle safety training.