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In litigating semi truck accident cases, one of the first places I look in determining the standard of care a tractor trailer driver must adhere to is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s defensive driving counter measures. Over the next few weeks I would like to discuss these countermeasures and how they relate to not only litigating truck wrecks, but also how they can be used by trucking companies and/or drivers in increasing driving safety.

The first countermeasure states:

Objective: To prevent accidents by trying to anticipate hazardous situations and adjusting driver behavior to compensate.

Description: The defensive driver tries to recognize potentially hazardous situations sufficiently in advance to allow time to safely maneuver past them. The defensive driver assumes that other drivers may make mistakes and is on guard in the event an error is made. The defensive driver searches ahead of what is immediately in front, to have advance warning of approaching hazards.

Without going any further, the above “objective” and “description” provide the foundation of a safer trucking industry. So let’s take the above quote and pull out some basic rules for safe truck driving.

  1. Be a defensive driver.
  2. Learn to recognize driving situations that can be hazardous.
  3. Assume other drivers will make errors.
  4. Adjust speed, position, direction and attention to be able to maneuver safely if a hazard develops.
  5. Scan far enough ahead to be able to react safely to approaching situations.
  6. Scan frequently to the side and rear for passing or approaching vehicles.
  7. Scan thoroughly before changing speed or direction.

If you have taken the time to go to the above FMCSA link you will see that there are questions for management within this section of the FMCSA’s countermeasures. In the next blog we will examine what management should be doing to promote the rules stated above.

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