defensive driving

Driver error is one of the top causes of the 388,000+ truck accidents across the U.S. annually. To reduce the number of truck accidents and keep our roads safe, key stakeholders within the trucking industry, like the National Safety Council, offer defensive driving courses for truckers.

A well-designed defensive driving course for truck drivers provides standard truck-specific defensive driving training to new and seasoned truck drivers. 

Let’s explore the concept of defensive driving, including the benefits of defensive driving courses, to help you understand what you can do to avoid accidents and remain safe behind the wheel.

What Is Defensive Driving?

Defensive driving uses safe driving techniques to predict and mitigate potentially risky road situations before accidents happen. These safe driving practices allow truckers like you to prepare for the actions careless drivers might take and how fluctuating road conditions might affect the way cars operate. 

Almost all defensive driving training programs are centered on proactive, safety-focused driving skills based on two core principles:

  • Increasing driver awareness to help drivers stay alert of their surroundings so they can notice any changes and respond in good time
  • Creating a buffer – i.e., taking full responsibility for your vehicle. This includes driving a safe car and knowing how your vehicle should be driven in hazardous conditions. It also includes knowing when to take your vehicle off the road, if needed, to keep yourself and all other road users safe.

truck driver

Who Can Benefit from Defensive Driving Training?

Defensive driving training helps drivers improve their driving skills while addressing various issues affecting their driving records. These training programs are helpful to new and seasoned drivers, including:

  • Inexperienced drivers under 21 years. Most states have a point or demerit system under which an individual’s driving license gets suspended or revoked based on the total points accumulated for the traffic offenses committed within a certain period. 
  • Mature drivers from 55 years and above. Most mature drivers may experience a decline in reaction time and flexibility or vision and hearing challenges. Several states, like New Jersey, offer defensive driving courses to mature drivers to help them learn how to compensate for any changes they may face and continue to drive safely.  

What Does Defensive Truck Driving Training Include?

Defensive truck driving training covers various aspects of driving commercial trucks, including:

Speed Management

A speed management defensive driving course helps you understand how to choose the right speed following changing road conditions. So you can take the most appropriate action to avoid collisions.

Space Management 

As a defensive driver course, speed management offers lessons on managing the space around your vehicle. You’ll learn about maintaining enough space between cars as a safety cushion, changing lanes and merging, adjusting to traffic, etc.

Driver Distractions  

A defensive driving course on driver distractions covers different driver distractions, their consequences, and how to minimize them.

Emergency Maneuvers

Emergency Maneuvers like evasive steering to avoid hitting oncoming or stationary vehicles and off-road recovery are part of a defensive driver training module to help you prevent fatal injuries and losses.

Skid Control 

A defensive driving course on skid control covers different skids, their causes, and how to avoid or recover from them.

Rear-End Collision Avoidance  

With this online or classroom course, you’ll know how to calculate and maintain enough following distance, estimate stopping time, and navigate intersections or other passing vehicles.

Lane Changes and Intersections 

This course equips you with skills in changing lanes and navigating intersections effectively. You’ll learn about mirror use and lane change rules.

Night Driving 

Defensive night driving covers reduced visibility and increased fatigue. Here are a few overnight safety travel tips to note.

Winter Driving 

In a winter defensive driving course skills you’ll gain include installing tire chains, dealing with poor traction and skids, plus knowing when to stop and park safely.

Crash Reporting And Investigation Procedure  

An effective crash reporting and investigation procedure course provides all the details you need to handle truck accidents effectively.

Benefits Of A Defensive Driving Course For Truck Drivers

Besides knowing how to drive safely, a defensive driving course for truckers offers the following benefits:

Saving Lives

All the safe driving practices you learn from defensive driving training help you save thousands of lives. You become alert on the road and can easily tell when a person is about to make a mistake that can cost many their lives, then respond fast enough to prevent it from happening. 

Saving Money

Becoming a defensive driver saves you money in different ways:

  • You qualify for lower insurance rates and discounts on your auto insurance premiums.
  • Avoid vehicle damage costs related to truck collisions.
  • Avoid losing cash on product compensation because of reduced cargo damage in transit.
  • Safe driving improves vehicle longevity because of reduced wear and tear from aggressive driving. You spend less on vehicle maintenance.

Avoiding Traffic Violations

A defensive driving course improves your driving skills. You get a good grasp of traffic regulations and can avoid traffic violations. You’ll also avoid the penalties that come with each traffic ticket.

For truckers with a poor driving record, a defensive driving course can help you reduce points and improve your driving record. 

Improving Company Reputation And Bottom Line

For fleet owners, defensive driving courses help you to:

  • Improve your company’s reputation through safe driving behaviors
  • Qualify for insurance reduction
  • Reduce costs associated with driving incidents and insurance claims
  • Improving driver retention. 

All these benefits can reduce operating costs and increase savings to improve your bottom line.  

Final Thoughts

Getting defensive driving training is essential, whether you pay for your fleet drivers to take the course or do it in a personal capacity. You’ll gain critical skills that’ll help you thrive in the trucking industry.

With a stable internet connection, you can successfully complete defensive driving courses online at your own pace. So you don’t have to worry about the lessons interfering with your trucking schedule. The National Safety Council offers some of the best online defensive driving courses. Consider taking their online safety training courses.

Contact us at Mission Financial Services if you get involved in a trucking accident and need help to get back on track. We can help finance your repairs or truck purchase to get you back on the road sooner.


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