1 Consider road conditions
Follow at least three seconds behind vehicles in dry conditions. Allow more stopping time on wet, icy, or packed snow-covered roads – vehicles can hydroplane starting at 35 mph in as little as one-quarter inch of water. To regain control when hydroplaning, counter-steer to compensate, then steer in the direction of the skid and remove your foot from the accelerator. If a vehicle has a brake “retarder” device, turn it off in slippery conditions.
2 Anticipate obstacles
A driver can lose control of a vehicle when swerving to avoid another vehicle or an animal, debris, or other obstacle in the road. Employees can save lives when they stay alert and allow enough time and space around their vehicle to react to obstacles.
3 Understand ABS
By federal law, all U.S. cars and minivans made since 2012 must have a four-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS). Warn employees not to pump the brake in an ABS-equipped car in an emergency. Instead, when drivers hear or feel pulses in the brake pedal indicating that the ABS is activated, they should press and hold the brake and steer to safety.
4 Avoid sudden moves
Electronic stability control (ESC), required on U.S. cars made since 2011, can help prevent rollovers and other loss-of-control crashes. In any vehicle, drivers should avoid jerking the wheel, slamming on the brake, over-accelerating, or other destabilizing actions that make it easier to lose traction.
5 Take care of tires
ESC and ABS work best when tires are in good condition. Make sure company vehicles’ tires have enough tread and are properly inflated, and tell employees to do the same for personal vehicles they drive for work. As part of every pre- and post-trip inspection, employees should make sure front tires still have a tread depth of at least 4/32 of an inch in every major groove, that no fabric shows through the tread or sidewall, and that there are no signs of uneven wear. Vehicles with visible tire wear should be serviced immediately.