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Operators should have detailed, ongoing driving training programs in place to ensure a top-notch team of chauffeurs.
Safety is getting a lot of attention lately given all the violations and problems with transportation network companies (TNCs). While this presents an opportunity for limousine operators, we can never take for granted that we are always safer than TNCs. Safety takes vigilance. This “best tips” guide ensures that safety and sound driving practices replicate the DNA of your operations. Lives and profits are at stake.
Vehicle Inspections & Set-Up
Preparing The Vehicle For Yourself
Given chauffeurs may be assigned to different makes and models any given day, familiarize yourself and set-up your vehicle before you ever put it in gear, making sure the seat and mirrors are adjusted to your liking and for optimal viewing. You should always adjust the seat first and then the mirrors. If you need to adjust the climate controls during the trip, make sure you know where the temperature control and fan speed controls are located. A moment of distraction looking for these things while traveling on a highway could spell disaster.
Checking Safety Equipment
Does your vehicle have safety equipment? We all go through a pre-trip inspection to make sure we have a First Aid kit, fire extinguisher, spare tire, jack, flares or triangles and other emergency use items. Make sure to check the condition of these items. Is the First Aid kit properly stocked? Are the contents old or damaged? Has the fire extinguisher been tagged and tested in the last year? Has it been discharged and put back in the vehicle without recharging? These are things you don’t want to find missing or damaged in an emergency. Is the spare tire properly inflated? Does the jack work? Do you have a lug nut wrench?
The Vehicle Walk-Around
Do you ever wonder why the phone company places cones in front and back of their vehicles when parked? It forces the driver to walk around the vehicle each time they get in it to pick up the cones. While you may have completed a vehicle inspection when you first started your shift, it is possible to incur tire damage while on the road or to develop leaks of coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid or even fuel. Take a moment each time you are out of the vehicle to do a walk-around inspection.
Expect The Unexpected
One of the best defensive driving techniques is to EXPECT the unexpected. Some examples include driving in the carpool lane as a vehicle enters into your path by crossing solid lines. Never assume you are safe simply because of a double solid line.
When traveling through intersections, expect a drunk driver is going to run the light and broadside you. If you are expecting this, you may be able to avoid tragedy. Do not assume because you have a green light the intersection will be clear.
When traveling at freeway speeds and a vehicle is in front of you, the driver may slam on the brakes for no apparent reason. What will your reaction be? Are you going to swerve left or swerve right? If you swerve left, will you be facing opposing traffic? Have a plan for the unexpected movements of all drivers around you.
When You Hear Sirens
When you hear sirens, PULL OVER! Too often, vehicles fail to yield the right of way to emergency vehicles. There is a tendency to believe an emergency vehicle traveling the opposite direction poses no reason to pull over. However, the law mandates that you pull over anytime an emergency vehicle is present with lights and sirens activated. The emergency vehicle may need to make a left hand turn directly in your path. The safest thing to do when you hear sirens is to pull over and stop as soon as practical. Do not proceed until you no longer hear sirens or see flashing lights.
Headlights On All The Time
Have you ever noticed that UPS trucks always have their headlights on when they travel? The same goes for school buses. Most motorcycles are equipped to be on anytime the engine is running. Statistics prove that “daytime running lights” help make you more visible to everyone. Even if the sun is setting in the eyes of an oncoming driver, he will see your headlights coming towards him. If the vehicle is going to make a left hand turn into your path, having your headlights on just might save you.
Many avoidable accidents happen during lane changes. When changing lanes at highway speeds, a mishap can easily lead to death or injury for you, your passengers and passengers in other vehicles. When you are changing lanes, make sure your change will not put you behind a vehicle without sufficient distance. Check for other vehicles moving into the same space at the same time. Make sure your lane change does not cause a motorist behind you to hit the brakes or swerve to avoid a collision with you or another vehicle.