Offensive vs Defensive Driving
Military officers’ plan ahead to choose optimal sites for battles or easily defended sites. They do this by using maps to judge terrain, population centers and supply lines. Espionage provides knowledge of enemy movement and reinforcements. This is referred to as offensive tactics and if used will save the lives of their troops.
THE BEST DEFENSE IS A GOOD OFFENSE
In driving, we use many different techniques lumped under the term defensive driving, but is it actually defensive driving? With an offense, you are prepared ahead of time for most situations and can control your response, being in defense; you are reacting to situations without having time to prepare and are not in control. Developing a good offense when driving entails using many tools and techniques.
TRUCKS ARE NOT ELEPHANTS AT THE CIRCUS
One of the major causes of wrecks is following distance. It takes approximately one football field to stop a loaded truck that is 450 feet. The National Safety Council recommends on dry roads at 55 mph trucks maintain at least a 4 second interval between them and other vehicles. That is about 3 truck lengths.
MIRRORS ARE FOR MORE THAN COMBING YOUR HAIR
Watching your mirrors, you keep aware of approaching vehicles behind you. You have already traveled that road you say? If you have to change lanes quickly you
had better have been watching behind you…vehicles in your blind spots, another
truck next to you or an on coming fast vehicle in the other lane will cause you to have to swerve back. Other things can be found there, approaching oversized loads, emergency vehicles and drunk drivers for a few. Then there is that bear that is trying to stop you that is going to be really mad if he has to chase you ten miles to get you stopped.
NOT MAKING THE 10 O’CLOCK NEWS
Preplanning your run is paramount to planning your offense. Checking ahead for weather conditions will assure that you can stop short if needed so you do not have to run in ice/snow or heavy fog. Getting your directions in advance and trying to avoid rush hour traffic will make your life less stressful.
Having a truck stop guide will allow you to plan where you will fuel and sleep. In preplanning your run, you should check a motor carrier atlas for routes, rest stops and sneaky low underpasses. Topping a trailer at speed limit speeds or sliding off in the ditch will assuredly get your name in the paper if not on the local TV news.
HOUDINI HAD ESCAPE PLANS, SO SHOULD YOU
By constantly watching your surroundings you can plan ahead to keep yourself safe. Watching ahead using the factors below also allows you to have constantly changing escape plans in case you need to dodge obstacles. The benefits of watching ahead are:
Watch as far ahead as you can see for brake lights alerting you to traffic slow downs or stopping, obstacles in the road, and approaching curves or construction. This allows you to slow down slowly.
Watching for off/on ramps and intersections so you can change lanes if needed.
Being aware of shoulder width and composition in case you have to take it in an
Being aware of median and bar ditch depth in case you have to take it.
Watching for oncoming traffic that may cross into your lane, have their brights on, or are driving drunk.
Being able to adjust your speed according to conditions.
SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE
No matter how good of an offense you have, ‘stuff’ happens and you will have to go onto the defensive and react instantly. One never knows when a tire will blow, your truck hydroplanes, a car veers into your truck, an airline blows, or a vehicle cuts you off. By using good offense based defensive driving skills combined with experience,
skill, knowledge and intuition, you can act in an instant to make the appropriate maneuvers to save your truck, yourself and other people’s lives.
You are the captain of your ship on the concrete sea; it is up to you to plan your offense by the second so that you can limit the possibility of going on the defense and getting ambushed by having to react instead of act.