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Safety Tips - Safe Driving

Article Provided By: National Association of Landscape Professionals

In the United States, a person dies in a motor vehicle crash every 12 minutes, an injury occurs every 10 seconds and a crash takes place every 5 seconds, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Many of these incidents occur during work or when employees are travelling to or from work. On-the-job traffic accidents are more common in the landscape industry because employees often are on the road, traveling between jobsites. Given that landscaping vehicles are commonly loaded with equipment and chemicals, accidents involving them often have more serious consequences.

More than 90 percent of automobile accidents are avoidable. Teaching and following practices for safely operating trucks with trailers can help landscaping companies and their employees, respectively, prevent most crashes.

Employee Dos and Dont's

Do:

  • Follow your company’s driver-safety program policies and procedures.
  • Conduct pre- and post-trip inspections per your training. If you did not receive this training, ask a supervisor about it.
  • Pay close attention at intersections. Approximately 23 percent of fatal crashes are intersection-related, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Proceed cautiously into intersections, even if you have the right of way.
  • Change your driving techniques based on road/weather conditions. Slow down and use greater caution when ice, snow, fog or rain are present.
  • Change lanes properly. Check all mirrors and signal long before beginning your move into another lane. Watch for other vehicles that might be attempting to switch to the same lane. If you are towing a trailer, ensure there is adequate space for the trailer when changing lanes.
  • Make wide right turns when towing a trailer. Remember the length of the trailer extends beyond the back of the truck. The truck could make a turn just fine, but the trailer could hit a pedestrian, utility pole or fire hydrant.
  • Steer straight ahead and reduce your speed gradually as you are passed by large trucks. If you are pulling a trailer, the wind they produce can cause the trailer to sway.
  • Regularly check the position of the trailer using the truck mirrors. Know a loaded trailer handles differently than an empty one.
  • Use opposite steering procedures when backing up a trailer. Always back up slowly and be aware that sharp turns can cause the trailer to jackknife. Use a spotter when backing up a trailer.
  • If an accident occurs, help avert a second one by setting out reflective triangles.

Don't:

  • Get distracted. Remain focused on your driving, other drivers, pedestrians, driving conditions and any equipment or materials you’re hauling. Avoid distractions from mobile electronic devices. Follow your company’s policy regarding use of cell-phones and other handheld electronic devices while on the road.
  • Accelerate quickly or unevenly, make sharp turns or stop suddenly.
  • Follow too closely. Maintain at least a 3-second following distance from the car in front of you. To do this, choose a fixed point (such as a road sign) even with the car in front of you. If you reach that point before you can count to three you’re driving too close. In hazardous weather conditions or when driving a loaded vehicle or pulling a trailer, increase the following distance to at least 5 seconds.
  • Travel at unsafe speeds. Going too fast reduces reaction time, causing or contributing to many accidents.