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Toolbox Talk - Week 52: Safe Driving - Defensive Driving

Safe Driving - Driving Defensively - 2021.12
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This talk discusses what defensive driving is and how to

drive defensively in order to stay safe on the road. The

information can apply to employees who drive as part

of their job or to those who merely commute to and

from work. It is not intended for commercial drivers.

Material to have on hand: Recent news story

about a traffic accident

Items for attendees to consider during


  • What is defensive driving?

  • How can defensive driving help you stay safe on the road?

  • Have you experienced a situation where defensive driving helped you avoid an accident?


Defensive driving is the idea that although you can’t

control the actions of other drivers, the hazards on the

road, or the weather conditions, you can reduce your

risk of accidents by driving in a way that anticipates

potential dangers and allows you time to avoid them.

In order to drive defensively, you must constantly

monitor the conditions on the road and the other

drivers around you. To do this successfully, you can’t be

distracted. Do not send or read text messages, talk on a

handheld cell phone, or otherwise try to manipulate

electronic devices while you’re behind the wheel.

Scan the road ahead of you for potential hazards, and

frequently check your rearview and side mirrors for

hazards approaching from behind. Hazards can range

from obstacles in the road to weather conditions to

drivers behaving unsafely. Remember that conditions

can change very suddenly.

For example, a child walking on a sidewalk could

suddenly run out into the road, or a driver ahead of you

may realize that he has missed a turn and may stop

without warning.

Also consider potential hazards common in your

surroundings. For example, in a city, you should be

particularly alert for pedestrians, while in a more rural

environment, you may need to watch out for wildlife

crossing the road. For each potential hazard you

identify, consider how you would respond. Would you

have time to stop? Could you safely steer around the


Be aware of when your visibility is compromised, and

adjust your speed accordingly. Your visibility can be

reduced by many conditions: Darkness, rain, snow, and

fog are just a few. If you can’t see around a curve ahead

of you or over the top of a hill, this is another situation

where you should reduce your speed to prepare for any

unexpected obstacles.

Do not rely solely on other drivers’ turn signals to know

their intentions. For example, if you are waiting to turn

onto a busy road, do not assume that it is safe to merge

in front of an oncoming vehicle just because its turn

signal is on. The driver may have left the signal on from

an earlier turn, or he or she may be planning to turn at a

different location than you anticipate. Similarly, people

often forget to use their turn signals, especially when

changing lanes. Be alert for drivers who swerve or turn

without warning.

Remember—you can’t control the hazards on the road,

but if you drive defensively, you’ll have a better chance

of coming home safely every night.

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