CHAPTER 15

TRUCK HAZARD PERCEPTION

 

Introduction

 

Any kind of road user or surface condition might pose a risk. As you advance in your professional driving career, learning to identify risks is a skill that you should continuously work on and will continue to grow. You will learn more about risks in this chapter of our ELDT Certificate Course, as well as how to spot them.

 

Hazard Recognition

 

Any aspect of the road or other driver that might endanger the driving public is considered a hazard. Effective hazard perception is essential for reducing accidents by helping one be aware of and prepare for possible risks.

 

Hazard perception resembles detective work in certain aspects. You should always be on the lookout for hints and signals that danger could be there. This entails looking both ahead of you on the road and surrounding your car. You should be on the lookout for two types of hints or signals: Road hazards and User hazards.

 

 

Road Hazards

 

There are many distinct types of road dangers. They might be created artificially, spontaneously, or a mix of both.

 

Road hazards are notable features of the surface of the road that may impair your ability to drive safely or see clearly.

Road hazards include: Pavement drop-offs; Road construction/work zones; Road debris; Off-ramps; and On-ramps.

 

Pavement drop-offs — Near the edge of the road, the pavement may sometimes abruptly drop off. Unexpected vehicle tilting might happen if you drive too closely to the edge. As a result, a car may run into roadside obstacles (tree limbs, signs, etc.). Additionally, steering while crossing a drop-off might be challenging.

 

Road construction/work zones — Construction crews operating in work zones or along roads are at risk. There can be uneven terrain, tight corners, dim lighting, hazy lane lines, or small lanes. Other drivers are often preoccupied and could operate their vehicles dangerously. Workers and construction equipment can obstruct the path.

 

Road debris — Debris (foreign items) may provide a risk to travel. Debris may seriously harm electrical and brake lines, endanger tires and wheel rims, and become lodged between twin tires.

 

Even seemingly trivial barriers might be highly deadly. A box or bag that seems empty might contain a hefty object that can cause harm.

 

Keeping an eye out for items on the road is crucial, as is seeing them early enough to avoid them without making risky or rash movements.

 

Off-ramps — Exits from freeways and the turnpike may be extremely hazardous. Off-ramps often have written speed limits, however, these are just the speeds that are acceptable for cars and may not be safe for bigger vehicles. Particularly risky exits are those that turn and descend simultaneously. It is hard to slow down due to the incline.

 

On-ramps — A motorist may not be paying attention when they approach a highway or turnpike. He or she may not see a car coming up from the side or the back. On-ramps sometimes get a brief makeover. Because of this, it is difficult for a big truck to accelerate and merge.

 

User Hazards

 

Anticipating a situation is key to avoiding a user hazard. The following are considered user hazards: Intersections; Blocked vision; Parked vehicles; Children and animals; Disabled vehicles; Inattentive/distracted drivers; Confused drivers; and Accidents.

 

Intersections —An alley or blind crossroads might conceal vehicles. A vehicle could move into the junction or onto the road without having a good view of the oncoming traffic. Always be ready to pause.

 

Blocked vision — People who are unable to perceive others may be dangerous. Being vigilant for drivers whose eyesight is obscured is crucial. Examples include vans, crowded station wagons, and vehicles with partially obscured back windows. Additionally, rental trucks need to be closely monitored. Drivers of rental trucks sometimes aren't used to having a restricted view of the sides and back of the vehicle. Wintertime driving hazards include automobiles with windows coated with ice or snow.

 

Parked vehicles — When a parked car starts to move out into traffic or starts up unexpectedly and drives into it, it may be dangerous. Keep an eye out for any movement that would indicate there are persons within the car, either inside or outside. Watch for warning signs indicating a motorist is ready to move, such as brake lights, backup lights, exhaust, or other signs.

 

Children — Kids often make snap decisions without considering the flow of traffic. To get a ball or pursue another youngster, they would dash across the street or through spaces between parked cars.

 

Disabled vehicles — Drivers who are adjusting a tire or servicing an engine may not be paying attention to traffic. Hazard indicators include elevated hoods or jacked-up wheels.

 

Inattentive drivers — Distracted drivers may be dangerous. Keep an eye on where they are gazing. They can't notice you if they are gazing somewhere else.

 

Confused drivers — Drivers who are confused often stop or change directions abruptly. Near big junctions and motorway or turnpike interchanges, confusion is frequent.

 

Travelers who are unfamiliar with a place might be dangerous. When searching for travelers, keep an eye out for trailers, vehicle top baggage, and license plates from other states.

 

Hesitation is another sign of confusion. Keep an eye out for vehicles driving very slowly, frequent use of brakes, or drivers looking at signs or maps.

 

Accidents — Those who are in an accident may not check for oncoming vehicles. Passing motorists often focus on the collision. People often cross the street without looking, and cars may abruptly halt or slow down.

 

Plan Ahead

 

Strong observational abilities and the capacity for rapid thought and plan development are needed. A risk may quickly develop into an emergency. Everyone on the road will be safer if they are well-prepared. You ought to:

 

  • Stay alert;

  • Scan, see the whole picture, use your mirrors;

  • Aim high (scan at least 12-15 seconds ahead of your vehicle);

  • Identify your options;

  • Execute (carry out your plan).

 

Summary

 

You have studied about the many kinds of dangers in this chapter, along with how to spot them early on and how they could endanger a professional driver. These abilities are crucial for preventing accidents and ensuring the safety of both you and your car.