Inadequate surveillance occurs when the driver is in the situation where he/she is required to look to safety to complete a maneuver and either fails to look in the appropriate place or looks, but does not see. This may include lane changes or turns at intersections where the driver looks in the required direction, but fails to see the approaching traffic. Below are some tips that will help you stay aware of the vehicles and traffic around you.
- Be vigilant in watching for vehicles in the “No-Zone.” Drivers around you may not be aware of the size of your truck’s blind spots. As a CMV driver you are aware that some of your blind spots are large enough that a passenger vehicle can virtually disappear from your view. Remember that other drivers unfamiliar with commercial driving probably do not realize this.
- Defensive driving is a way of operating your vehicle to avoid accidents due to the actions of others. To drive defensively you should: keep your distance, maintain a safe speed and stay alert. Recognizing potentially dangerous situations well in advance can allow you to safely maneuver pasts these situations. A recent study on the interaction between light and heavy vehicles revealed that light vehicle drivers initated almost 83% of safety-related traffic events. Therefore it is important to be aware of surrounding traffic and be ready to react to other drivers’ mistakes.
- Look at least 15 seconds in front of you. Looking far ahead will allow you to respond early and smoothly to changing conditions ahead and to avoid dangerous, abrupt braking situations. The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles states that “the speed of rotation and angle of the front wheels give you clues to whether the driver is slowing as the driver approaches a required stop, you should pad your brake and prepare to stop, and lightly tap your horn to get the other driver’s attention.” It takes 3/4 of a second from the moment your brain sends the signal to your foot to move from the accelerator to when your foot actually applies the brake. In this short period of time, you may have already traveled up to 60 feet. Focusing on the vehicles ahead of you will help you react in a safe and timely manner.
- Check your mirrors regularly and before you change lanes, turn, or merge. Check your mirrors quickly and return your attention to the road ahead. Frequent scanning will allow you to be aware of changing traffic conditions around your truck. If you check your mirrors regularly they can help you spot overtaking vehicles and identify if a vehicle has moved into your blind spot. They can be handy to check your tires as you are driving down the road which may help you spot a tire fire. In addition you can use them to check for loose straps, ropes or chains when you are carrying open cargo.
- Check left, right, and left again before entering an intersection. Being able to quickly glance in each direction will provide you sufficient time to recognize oncoming vehicles.