Driver Vehicle Inspections Are a Critical Step in Defensive Driving

Tom Bray, Sr. Industry Business Advisor

May 29, 2024

After reading the headline, you might be asking, “What do driver vehicle inspections have to do with defensive driving?” Actually, a lot!

Nearly everyone understands the relationship between driver inspections and cost reduction due to avoiding on-road repairs, and the role driver inspections play in preventive maintenance. What many people do not see is the direct connection between driver vehicle inspections and defensive driving.

Defensive driving involves driving well enough that the driver can overcome the mistakes and poor driving behaviors of others.

To accomplish this, the first step is the driver must always be in control of the vehicle. If the vehicle suffers a mechanical failure, such as a blown tire, a steering failure, a brake failure, or a suspension failure, the driver may not be able to maintain control. This loss of control could lead to a single vehicle or multiple vehicle crash.

Also, defensive driving involves the driver being able to see, decide, and act. This means the driver must be able to see hazards (road hazards, other traffic creating hazards, etc.), decide what to do about them (speed up, slow down, brake, steer, etc.), and take appropriate actions to prevent involvement in a crash. If the vehicle is not in good condition, the driver may not be able to succeed at these activities.

If the driver cannot see traffic, the road, traffic control devices, and road markings due to a defect on the vehicle, the driver cannot make sound decisions. To make sure the driver can see and decide, the driver must be inspecting the windshield, side windows, wipers, windshield washer, and the mirrors. Also, to provide other motorists with the opportunity to see what the driver is doing, the driver should be regularly inspecting the vehicle’s lights, paying close attention to the headlights, taillights, turn signals, and brake lights.

When it comes time to act, the vehicle needs to do what the driver is asking. As an example, if the driver must do a panic stop, the brakes must function correctly under maximum force. If not, the vehicle may not stop in time to avoid the crash. Another example is If the driver needs to steer to avoid a hazard, the steering must work properly. If the steering is not working properly, the driver may end up under or over steering to compensate for the steering defect, and end up in a crash that could have been avoided.

The way the driver knows these systems, and others, will work as designed during a defensive maneuver is by doing daily inspections of the vehicle.

The bottom line is that driver inspections not only keep the vehicle on the road making money, but they help the driver drive safely and defensively.

Trust our veteran trainers to help your team understand the crucial link between vehicle inspections and defensive driving and start improving your safe driving practices today!