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Fleet Driver Pro Tips for Defensive Driving - Pt 2

Posted by Wilmar, Inc.

 [Continued from Part 1]

Tips for Defensive Driving

Brake Lights Are Your Best Warning 

If you see brake lights, be prepared to tap your brakes. Maybe it's compression traffic. Maybe the driver ahead of you is about to dodge road debris you can't see yet.

But the last thing you want is to be surprised by braking. So watch for red both in the car right in front of you and several cars ahead, as far as you can see.

Don't Let Yourself Get 'Paced' or 'Boxed'

'Foot drivers' don't always drive practically when it comes to speeds. Sometimes, a person will speed up next to you, then start to pace.

Sometimes someone you are trying to pass will start to pace you unconsciously (or consciously) because they don't want to be passed or realized they were going slower than intended.

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Some people will also try to 'box' you or trap you behind a slower vehicle then pace you so you can't move over. Watch out. Do not get boxed or paced. It's okay to mildly vary your speed to avoid these situations and to jump into the passing lane early to avoid boxing.

Help Your Fellow Polite Drivers

If you see someone signaling to merge in or get to their exit, let them through. People who signal are the in the 'good driver club' right along with you. Even if they realize they need to make a change at the last minute, try to help out your fellow polite drivers.

Be good to trucks who have special rules on speed and lane position they must follow and remember trucks can't brake as quickly as smaller vehicles. And if you accidentally cut someone off or change lanes to close, give the apology wave. It helps.

Watch Out for Multi-Point Road Hazards

When dodging one road hazard, watch out for a second or third hazard that may become apparent seconds before disaster.

For example, you may have dodged a dangerous driver only to hit a pothole. Or dodged a pothole only to be zoomed up on by a dangerous driver. Be prepared for multi-point road hazards.

Always Have an Escape Route

Always maintain a route to move away from your current lane position. Just in case someone tries to merge into you or there's an obstacle on the road, you need maneuverability.

This is one very important reason not to get paced or boxed. It doesn't have to be a clear shot to the exit lane. Just a way to move away from any potential hazards.

This should lead you to build a mental set of strategies. If you see an erratic driver, for example, start thinking of ways you can avoid them if necessary.

If you see a truck coming up ahead of you, build your plan to get around them as smoothly and quickly as possible. And if you must be boxed temporarily, make sure you are aware of all potential hazards during this brief period.

Strategic Hurrying

Finally, we know that sometimes you're in a rush to meet a customer and you're the person going faster and passing regularly. Do this as politely and consistently as possible. Use your signals.

Don't be the tailgater or the rush-up. Pick your fast-speed (5-10 miles over depending on your state and city driving customs and the time of day) and pass consistently.

Count to five or give plenty of cushion space when merging back into the right lane, especially ahead of trucks, and leave space ahead of you no matter how fast you're trying to go.

And remember: there's no point in rushing up to get boxed. Only speed ahead if you can see a path toward breaking free of a pack or log-jam. Otherwise, you're actually better off waiting until the speeders and Sunday Drivers clear a path. Then take opportunities to go forward as they come.


Defensive driving goes beyond knowing the rules of the road to having techniques and strategic responses for the road hazards you can only learn about on the road itself. Contact us for more commercial fleet insights and services.

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Topics: Fleet Safety


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