As a professional driver, you are among the most prepared and alert motorists on the road. You pay strict attention to the area around your vehicle and on the road ahead. But as you drive, the scenery and conditions change every second, whether it’s on a major highway or a narrow rural road. To be a safe driver, you need to study the surrounding traffic, using visibility, time and space to your advantage, and always remain acutely aware of your options should things go wrong.
Stay Focused On Escape Routes
Keep your eyes moving to locate potential problems and identify any obstructions to your pathways to safety. Think in terms of having an escape route to help you deal with traffic, road conditions and other drivers so you’re not caught in a difficult situation. An escape route will give you the ability to know ahead of time what you can do in different driving environments. Keep a minimum following distance of 6 seconds when operating your vehicle, and up to 8 seconds or more in poor roadway conditions. Scan at least 15 seconds ahead of your vehicle noting brake lights, turn signals, other vehicles slowing down and lane shifting that can indicate a difference in traffic behavior. Looking that far ahead can help you prepare for any disruption that is happening – and also what might happen – to help you make more rational decisions about what your moves should be. Make your intentions known to other drivers and act decisively, without hesitation. Be aware of your blind spots and the blind spots of others, and don’t make any moves that could be unintentionally dangerous, especially in heavy traffic.
Keep A Buffer Zone
Traffic generally travels in packs, especially in highway driving situations. If vehicles are bunched up and traveling along in relatively tight quarters, work your way out of the congestion and maneuver to make room around your vehicle and create a buffer zone. The safer position for your vehicle is between the packs, rather than in one. Drive so that the traffic pack stays ahead of you, and maintain your speed so the pack behind keeps its distance as well. This isn’t always possible, but look for the opportunity and take it where and when you can. In city traffic, try to avoid the lane next to parked vehicles. At traffic lights, give yourself plenty of room to see pedestrians walking in front of you and also cross traffic running a red light. In every location you drive, stay alert to your operating environment to the front, from the sides and behind your vehicle. If you can’t see vehicles behind or in your blind spots, slow down and open up the space in front of you as an extra measure of safety