Defensive Driving Lesson:
It was a late Friday afternoon and Jeremy was just one town away from home. The wide suburban road he was driving on had three lanes going east, three lanes going west, and a shared center turn lane. Although it was almost rush hour, there were hardly any cars on the road. Jeremy was in the far left west-bound lane. He knew he was exceeding the speed limit by going 45 mph in a 40 mph zone, but he was so close to home and trying to beat the traffic.
Up ahead on the left, he saw a box truck slowly cut across the oncoming, east-bound lanes, headed for his own lane. Jeremy looked to his right, hoping the lane was empty, but there was a lady in a silver SUV, passing him in the middle lane. Her kids were in the back seat. Slamming on his brakes, he allowed her to pass him so he could change lanes. He was barely able to complete the lane change when the box truck entered the far left lane where Jeremy would have been in another five seconds. But then the box truck moved from the left lane to the middle lane right ahead of the SUV. The SUV driver braked and narrowly avoided hitting the box truck as it proceeded into the far right lane. Jeremy hit the SUV, despite braking as hard as he could.
The damage to the rear of the SUV was massive and Jeremy’s employer was upset. The ensuing property damage and liability claims for the driver of the SUV and her children ended up totaling more than $100,000.
Although accidents frequently happen in merging environments, most of these collisions are considered preventable. According to the Texas Department of Insurance, defensive drivers follow these four practices:
-1- Pay attention to surroundings in order to foresee potential perils
-2- Begin braking the moment a hazard starts to develop
-3- Apply brakes as gradually as possible to avoid causing another accident from behind
-4- Anticipate that other drivers will not be as aware of their surroundings and will attempt potentially unsafe maneuvers to avoid unexpected hazards.
Although there was no way to predict the exact scenario above, Jeremy should have anticipated hazards from both right and left sides and known what cars were next to him. Just as importantly, had Jeremy been driving at a safe speed, he could have avoided the accident entirely. Safety is the most important part of being a professional driver. Following the above practices keep you, your job, and your fellow motorists safe on the roads.