Intersections present some of the greatest safety challenges for commercial vehicle operators and passenger drivers alike. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that around 40% of accidents involved an intersection. Whether it’s a 4-way stop or a complex traffic light, truck drivers have to be on high alert. And while every instance is unique, there are several ways that truckers can best equip themselves for safe passage through intersections. In this article, we will explore four practical ways that commercial drivers can more safely navigate intersections.
Make No Assumptions
As a professional driver, you don’t have the luxury of assuming that other drivers on the road will do what they’re supposed to at intersections. Unfortunately, intersection safety isn’t top-of-mind for many drivers. So, it’ll often be up to you to prevent an accident. Even when the right-of-way is clearly and legally yours, you might have to yield to out-of-turn vehicles in some cases. Though this can be frustrating, it’s just part of the job.
Watch Your Speed
As you approach an intersection, ease off the accelerator and cover your brakes. Even be cautious as you approach and drive through green lights. You never know when a driver from crossing traffic will decide to run a red light! On a similar note, pay close attention to the cycle of upcoming traffic lights so that you aren’t surprised when a “stale” green light changes to yellow. Reduce your speed and prepare to brake when you are approaching a green light that is about to turn.
Look Left, Right, & Left Again
Before proceeding through an intersection, you should always look left, right, & left again. This will ensure that you have a comprehensive understanding of all vehicles and pedestrians around you. It’s also a good idea to rock forward and backward in your seat to make sure that you see any pedestrians or small vehicles that are in your blind spots.
Communicate with Other Drivers
Communication is a huge key to success when it comes to intersection safety. At intersections, there are two primary ways that you communicate your intentions to other motorists: the lane you are in and your turn signals. Some lanes only allow one course of action, making it easy for others to know your intent. Other times, you’ll find yourself in a lane that has multiple options at an intersection. Always use your turn signals to indicate your path, especially if you’re not in a dedicated turning lane.
Nothing can change the fact that intersections are a dangerous aspect of driving. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take action to be safer. By making no assumptions, watching your speed, scanning left to right, and communicating with other drivers, you can mitigate the chances of an accident.
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