Defensive driving for truck drivers

Defensive driving for truck drivers.

Defensive driving for truck drivers is an important skill that saves lives. This paper will explain some of the things that truck drivers can do to be defensive when driving.

What is defensive driving for truck drivers?

Defensive driving for truck drivers is driving in a manner where a driver is alert and ready to be evasive should the need arise. The Full Court of the High Court of Australia in Sibley v Kais (1967) 118 CLR 424, 427 held that — in the context of two vehicles approaching an intersection —

What amounts to “reasonable care” is, of course, a question of fact but to our mind, generally speaking, reasonable care requires each driver as he approaches the intersection to have his vehicle so far in hand that he can bring his vehicle to a halt or otherwise avoid an impact, should he find another vehicle approaching from his right or from his left in such a fashion that, if both vehicles continue, a collision may reasonably be expected. (emphasis added)

This notion of having one’s ‘vehicle so far in hand’ may be paraphrased as being alert, covering the brake and ready to stop. 

Defensive truck driving techniques

The following are some things that truck drivers can do to be more defensive. This list is by no means exhaustive:

  1. Reduce speed when approaching an intersection — Traffic lights that may have been green for some time are sometimes referred to as ‘stale green’. This means that they may turn yellow at any time. The requirement to stop if safe at yellow lights is explained in Road Rule 2014 (NSW) r 57.
  2. Observation when using intersections — Reducing speed when using intersections allows the driver to more effectively look for hazards. Verifico truck driver trainers teach truck drivers to look everywhere before proceeding through an intersection, no matter what colour the lights are. This is simply due to the risk of other drivers running red lights or perhaps an emergency vehicle is proceeding through on red lawfully.
  3. Enter roundabouts with a two-limbed analysis — The rule for entering roundabouts is Road Rules 2014 (NSW) r 114(1) ‘A driver entering a roundabout must give way to … any vehicle in the roundabout’. However, this rule read strictly must be used with caution as unfortunately many drivers are ignorant to the rule. Thus, in the interest of being defensive, truck drivers must be on the look out for, among other things, drivers failing to abide by r 114. Therefore, the two-part test is: first, have I got right of way according to the road rules, and second, am I being reasonably careful entering the roundabout considering the facts before me? Verifico truck driver trainers teach truck drivers to require both limbs be satisfied before they enter a roundabout.
  4. Checking for motorcycles or others when moving off at an intersection — The rules for motorcycles have changed allowing them to filter through intersections under particular conditions. This means that where a truck is waiting at traffic lights, there is risk of a motorcyclist being in close proximity to the truck. Should the truck driver move off and collide with the motorcyclist, it would not be too difficult to find that the truck driver did not exercise reasonable care. Verifico driver trainers teach all truck drivers to check everywhere every time before they move off at intersections.

Want to learn more?

Verifico offers tailored defensive truck driving courses to meet your needs. The service can be coupled with a verification of competency, or delivered in vehicle in groups of six. Furthermore, Verifico offers truck driver licence upgrades in Sydney for anyone needing to upgrade to MR, HR or HC. Call 1300521289.

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