The veteran drivers/editors at edmunds.com have seen it all. Noted for their car ratings and reviews, here they parcel out their experience into 10 tips that can help keep your employees safe on the road.
As an experienced safety professional, you are no doubt aware that the biggest risk facing your employees every day is the drive to and from work. The editors at edmunds.com are well aware of those risks, too.
While the edmunds.com website is probably best known as a top car-buying guide and for its vehicle reviews and ratings, it also offers an extensive library of safe-driving tips.
The Edmunds editors should know something about safety. Their jobs entail extensive test driving, and they’ve seen it all – or at least most of it – from closed-course tests to interaction with drivers on the L.A. Freeway. Here is what they recommend:
1. Stay out of the fast lane. By using the center or right lane on multi-lane roads, drivers have more escape routes should a problem suddenly arise that requires quick lane changes or pulling onto the shoulder. Most highway accidents occur in the left lane. Also, drivers are most conspicuous to law enforcement if they are in the left-hand or “fast” lane.
2. Keep your eyes scanning the area ahead. Good drivers don’t just stare at the car ahead. Rather, they watch the traffic in front of that car as well. This increases your chance of seeing a problem while you still have enough time to react to it.
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3. Beware of blind spots. Adjust your side and rearview mirrors to provide one “seamless panoramic scene of the view behind you,” the Edmunds editors say. But don’t rely solely on them. You should also look directly into the lanes beside you to avoid overlooking something left undetected by the mirrors. Consider, too, the potential blind spots affecting other drivers around you, particularly truckers.
4. Get ‘racecar driver control’ of the wheel. The idea here is to maintain control of the wheel by moving your seat close enough to the steering wheel so that, with your arm outstretched and your back against the seat, your wrist could rest on the top of the wheel. This ensures that your arms won’t tire easily and it puts you in the best position to manage last-minute evasive maneuvers.
5. Place your hands at 9 and 3. “Instead of the lazy, typical way people drive” with one hand at 12 o’clock or both hands at the bottom of the steering wheel, use the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions, the editors say. This leads to better vehicle control, especially if you are forced into quick maneuvering to avoid a potential crash.
6. Judge drivers by their cars. Cars with body damage or dirty windows could be indicative of an inattentive driver behind the wheel. Also, a car that is drifting in its lane may mean the driver is tired, drunk, or on the phone. Steer clear.
7. Know thy vehicle. Get in touch with your inner car. Pay attention to how it reacts in certain situations. Become familiar with the limits of your brakes and tires. How long does it take to stop when you apply maximum pressure? How much grip do your tires have? If you replaced your car’s original tires with a cheap set, it’s likely that you’re reducing braking and handling capability.
Try BLR’s Interactive CD Course: Defensive Driving at no cost or risk. Get the details.
8. Keep your vehicle in shape. Edmunds recommends adhering to the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, a way to ensure that a vehicle will accelerate, stop, and steer when you need it to. “Reconsider the wisdom of ‘getting another 1,000 miles out of old tires,'” the editors say. It may not be worth it.
9. Nighttime may not be the right time. Traveling at night can help you avoid congestion on the roads, but it can also be a hazardous proposition. At night you’re more tired, your field of vision is decreased, and you may have to deal with joyriding teens and drunks. If you are out late, drive extra defensively after midnight when people leave bars and parties.
10. Consider high-performance training. Going to a high-performance driving school can be a great way to improve driving skills. “Understanding how to make your car do what you want it to do in emergency situations could save your life.”
Tomorrow we’ll look at some more defensive driving and vehicle maintenance tips that can help safeguard your employees, and at a tool that can really help you drive home the importance of safe driving to your workforce.