J. J. Keller® Compliance Network Logo
Start Experiencing Compliance Network for Free!
Update to Professional Trial!

Be Part of the Ultimate Safety & Compliance Community

Trending news, knowledge-building content, and more – all personalized to you!

Already have an account?
Thank you for investing in EnvironmentalHazmat related content. Click 'UPGRADE' to continue.
Enjoy your limited-time access to the Compliance Network Professional Trial!
A confirmation welcome email has been sent to your email address from ComplianceNetwork@t.jjkellercompliancenetwork.com. Please check your spam/junk folder if you can't find it in your inbox.
Thank you for your interest in EnvironmentalHazmat related content.
You've reached your limit of free access, if you'd like more info, please contact us at 800-327-6868.
Defensive driving
  • A defensive driver always looks ahead to locate potential hazards and avoid them.
  • A defensive driver is aware of what is going on in front, behind, and to both sides of the vehicle.
  • A defensive driver maintains a 10-foot cushion on both sides of the truck.

A defensive driver is a safe driver. Driving defensively prevents accidents and injuries as well as unexpected, additional business costs (vehicle repairs, increased insurance premiums, etc.).

Driving defensively means the driver keeps a constant visual scan. The driver stays alert to changes by looking well ahead, to the sides and behind the vehicle — observing the entire situation.

Recognizing potential hazards, deciding on an appropriate response, and carrying out the appropriate response are all key to defensive driving.

Four basic elements

The four basic elements of defensive driving are:

  • Good vision — A defensive driver always looks ahead, identifying potential hazards quickly and applying the best way to avoid them. Looking ahead just doesn’t include what is directly in front of a vehicle, but rather 1–2 blocks ahead. Being seen is also just as important as seeing others. Drivers should make sure that lights, signals, and reflectors are in good working order.
  • Heightened awareness — A defensive driver always knows what is going on in front, behind, and to the sides of the vehicle. Drivers should get into the habit of doing a constant visual scan around the truck. To do this effectively, drivers must clean and properly adjust the mirrors.
  • Proper speed and space management — Maintaining an adequate cushion of safety around the truck is essential to defensive driving. This cushion is the driver’s margin for responding to hazards. It can take up to the length of two football fields to stop a commercial motor vehicle at highway speeds. Successful space management requires proper utilization of speed and following distance. A cushion of 10 feet of space should be on the sides of the truck.
  • The right attitude — A good defensive driver assumes that the other drivers on the road aren’t paying attention. Distracted and inattentive drivers are a driver’s toughest challenge. Drivers must get in the habit of imagining “what if” at all times. Defensive driving means having the right attitude when driving. The driver is the only person in charge of safety!