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Defensive Driving Program Focuses on Distracted Drivers

August 09, 2017

Screenshot via ITI
Screenshot via ITI

Instructional Technologies Inc., announced a new defensive driving program called Pro-Defense that focuses on the increasing amount and types of distractions professional drivers face on the road.

Through a series of eight courses, the Pro-Defense program teaches drivers the skills, focus, and attitude they need to navigate modern roads and protect themselves from distracted drivers.

“The concept of defensive driving hasn't changed much since the mid-1950s," said Laura McMillan, vice president of training development at ITI. "In that time, the roads have gotten more congested, the vehicles faster, and the drivers more distracted and aggressive. The changes mean any single-subject defensive driving course is outdated. Yet, while many of the basic skills still apply to defensive driving, we knew we needed to re-think it with a modern, structured approach.”

Distracted driving is the cause of 41% of all accidents, according to the National Highway Safety Administration, and driver inattention plays a role in a considerable portion of all crashes. Secondary tasks or activities, often as a result of handheld electronics use, have contributed to a shift in recent years, with driver-related factors present in almost 90% of crashes, according to a National Academy of Sciences study.

Fatigued driving is also playing a role, with a total of 16% of Americans admitting to nodding off while driving in the previous month, according to a study conducted by the National Safety Council.

“This research led many of our customers to ask for a new approach to use when talking to drivers about defensive driving,” said McMillan. “They realize that while the same basic principles apply, vehicles, traffic, and operations that require multi-tasking have all changed. Defensive driving is now increasingly about being able to read the road and the actions and intentions of other drivers. Pro-Defense is designed to change behaviors and replace them with actions that are instinctual. The result is a safer fleet with fewer crashes and injuries.”

The Pro-Defense program is a structured system of eight courses that introduce defensive driving and address seven concepts using an easy-to-remember mental checklist that spells out “DEFENSE,” including:

  • Distractions – Instant communication and information systems in today’s vehicles are a leading cause of distracted driving, but far from the only one.
  • Effective Communication – Driving predictably and signaling your intentions, as well as reading the intentions of other motorists, can help ensure safety.
  • Fatigue Management – Fatigued driving will have a serious impact on reaction times and the ability to operate safely.
  • Evaluating Space – Creating a safety zone and constantly checking surroundings is a proven approach to taking appropriate action to avoid collisions.
  • Navigating Hazards – Awareness of hazards like distracted drivers, low clearances, merging lanes, and changing weather and road conditions means being aware of your surroundings.
  • Speed Management – Driving at a safe speed for road and environmental conditions is one of the most important elements of defensive driving and a key to avoiding crashes.
  • Essential Planning – From Interstates to city streets to customer locations, maximizing safety requires planning effectively every day.

ITI says that the mnemonic of “DEFENSE” is a good reminder for safety meetings, payroll stuffers, and promotional items. Its lessons can also be incorporated into a comprehensive curriculum of Pro-Tread online driver training courses.

For more information on Pro-Defense, click here.

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