Defensive driving: The summer edition

Posted May 6, 2020

Often, when we think of adverse driving conditions, we think of the wintertime challenges posed by Mother Nature — snow, sleet, and ice.

Though the professional driver doesn’t deal with these types of conditions during the summer, a different set of issues are common — tourists and road construction.


Signs of a tourist

Summer means sun, fun, and for many Americans that once a year family road trip. Though professional drivers share the road with four-wheelers on a continual basis, summertime brings out a different set of hazards, including tourists traveling through known vacation areas.

The over-packed vehicle. Boxes, coolers, or clothes may cover a vehicle’s back or side windows. Leave plenty of following distance and pass with care.

Towing extra toys. Some individuals are unfamiliar and/or inexperienced with operating a four-wheeler with a towed unit (trailer, camper, boat.) When approaching this type of setup:

  • Allow plenty of following distance;
  • Watch for swerving of the towed unit and the potential for over-correcting by the driver; and
  • Be alert to what seems like sudden slowing, stopping, or turning as the light systems on some towed units may not operate as they should.

A vehicle with children. Though they don’t mean to, children who are tired, hungry, or just plain bored can pose a distraction to a driver. Always use heightened awareness when approaching a vehicle with children, allow for plenty of following distance, and keep an eye out for sudden stopping, turning, and changing lanes.


Road construction

Summer is the prime season for roadwork throughout the country. Additional caution and defensive driving practices are extremely important when driving through work zones.

Pay attention. Eliminate all activities that can be a distraction.

Don’t tailgate. Maintain a safe following distance by leaving plenty of room between vehicles in case sudden braking is necessary.

Don’t speed. As well as being one of the major causes of work zone crashes, the majority of states impose enhanced fines for speeding in work zones.

Merge as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the last minute to merge.

Be patient. Slow down and pay attention to what is going on around the vehicle.

Expect the unexpected. Normal speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be changed, and people may be working on or near the road.

Defensive Driving

More than a quarter of all work-related fatalities occur in occupations that require driving, or the transportation of goods, making the need for defensive driving skills clear. In order to avoid injury, or worse, death, drivers need to understand what defensive driving really means and what unique challenges a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) driver faces... even for veteran drivers.

Check out these Defensive Driving for CMV Drivers programs from J. J. Keller Training:

Defensive Driving for CMV Drivers: Prepare is designed to help drivers learn how being prepared impacts defensive driving.

Defensive Driving for CMV Drivers: Communicate is designed to teach drivers how to identify ways to communicate with, and receive signals from, other drivers.

Defensive Driving for CMV Drivers: Look is designed to help drivers demonstrate how to look for hazards by scanning the road ahead and using their mirrors.

Defensive Driving for CMV Drivers: Manage Speed & Space is designed to help drivers recognize how to effectively manage speed and space.

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