BASED on the fact that the perfect driver has never been born and the perfect drive has never taken place, it’s worthwhile pointing out the most common mistakes company car drivers make along with how to improve safety and stay legal.
Driver mistake 1: Tailgating (driving too close)
This is without doubt a national driving disease and is both hugely dangerous and intimidating for the vehicle in front.
tailgating is stupid and highly dangerous
It is often used as a ‘weapon’ by drivers who try to force cars in front of them out of the way and this tactic is both disturbing and mindless. There are no advantages to tailgating so there is simply no excuse for doing it.
What drivers should be doing is creating space so they also create more time to react to sudden changes of situation. Crucially, it avoids the need to brake every time the vehicle in front does.
Space creates time and time means safety. It may sound corny but the ‘2 second rule’ works like magic and allows you time to brake in a safer manner. It also ensures the driver behind has time to react as well, so that you don’t get ‘rear ended’ yourself.
Control your own safety and do not tailgate – it’s stupid and highly dangerous!
Driver mistake 2: Speeding
Staying within speed limits requires a degree of discipline that some company car drivers just don’t have.
Speed at your peril as the points that stack up on your license may (or should) bring you to your senses.
No company expects its drivers to break laws to get to a business meeting or to deliver an order and nobody thinks big of you for speeding.
You need to be particularly careful in 30 and 40 mph zones. Posted limits sometimes change between the two speeds, and cameras, often placed around these transitions, are increasingly common.
It’s a ‘win-win’ situation but it requires diligence and commitment to stay legal.
Remember that breaking a speed limit is breaking the law. It’s only you that puts pressure on yourself to think that breaking the speed limit is part of the job … it isn’t!
Driver mistake 3: Poor attitude and unpunished behaviour
This is the BIG ONE!
A company car driver’s attitude describes his or her values and beliefs and how individuals act and react to things happening on the road.
If a driver lacks emotional stability and has low control of temper – it’s just an accident waiting to happen.
It is the ‘Potent Force’ in a driver’s personality and make-up. It’s a driver’s attitude and inability to control emotions and moods that gets so many into deep trouble.
It’s a ticking time-bomb that breeds retaliation and competition for road space. If a driver lacks emotional stability and has low control of temper – it’s just an accident waiting to happen.
In fact, it’s such an important factor in driver safety I remain amazed that the Driving Standards Agency doesn’t place far more importance on it and at least try to tackle it.
Instead, it’s left to individuals, and I’m one of them, to publicise the issue, and try to offer guidance and advice to those that want to understand more about this life threatening issue.
Your challenge is to stay calm and make safety the core of your driving, irrespective of the provocations you may meet. Can you meet my challenge of controlling your emotions and keeping your temper under control when behind the wheel?
Driver mistake 4: Hazard recognition – accelerating into danger
Some drivers have quite poor observation skills and fail to spot hazards in the road ahead, or even the lack ability to differentiate between potential danger and actual threats to safety.
If drivers don’t see problems on the road ahead, how can they plan a course of action or anticipate the likely outcome? They can’t. And its drivers like these that accelerate into danger rather than using the rule of only accelerating away from danger.
It’s vital to develop visual scanning abilities in order to recognise hazards ahead and then have a plan of action as they are approached.
Good observation and planning are fundamental to developing safety and dealing with static and moving hazards.
Remember – as you get closer to any hazard, keep assessing and re-assessing and develop the ability to approach every hazard at a safe speed.
Driver mistake 5. Discipline behind the wheel – take a break!
Far too many company car drivers don’t know when enough is enough.
Take a break from driving – ideally every two hours.
Driving while tired is extremely dangerous: it means reduced perception skills, reduced reaction time and the really big on – danger of falling asleep at the wheel.
If your body feels tired and your eyes are getting heavy, don’t try and ‘drive through it’. Stop, have a quick snooze, and then resume your journey.
Paul Ripley is the managing director of Driver Risk Dynamics.