In the United States, there were 1,439,900 delivery drivers as of 2020. This number is constantly growing as more small fleet drivers hit the road every day. Small fleets include package delivery, food delivery, plumbing and electrical professionals, and lawn and garden maintenance teams.

As a delivery driver, there are many hazards that you must be aware of while you are driving through residential areas, including parked vehicles, pedestrians, children, and animals.

It is important that you learn how to anticipate, identify, and avoid these hazards to keep yourself and others safe, and to protect your company from economic losses due to accidents.

Whether you are a driver or a manager of a small fleet, this guide will help you understand the important role defensive driving plays in road safety when driving in residential neighborhoods.

Optimize Your Route

One of the easiest ways you can improve your safety as a small fleet or final mile driver is by optimizing your route. Know here you are going before you start your journey.

Include as many right-hand turns as possible in your route to avoid potential accidents. Right turns are safer than left-hand turns because you do not need to pass in front of oncoming traffic during the procedure. Also, while left turns require you to stop in an intersection until a gap in traffic allows you to turn ( which can be dangerous as well), right-hand turns let you keep moving.

Large delivery services have even determined that making more right turns throughout the delivery day saves on gas consumption, which saves money.

Take a Defensive Driving Course

Being prepared includes decreasing or eliminating risky behavior behind the wheel. Taking a defensive driving course teaches drivers how to anticipate, identify, and avoid road hazards.

When drivers improve their driving performance and prevent accidents, both employees and employers can avoid costly consequences like traffic violations, fines, as well as lost production, medical bills, and higher insurance rates.

Incorporating an online defensive driving course into your fleet driver training is smart, cost effective, and necessary in today’s fast-moving, mobile-focused world. Many insurance providers offer defensive driving discounts for those who complete a defensive driving course. Insurance savings can reach into the hundreds and even thousands of dollars over the life of the discount (which is usually three years).

Drivers can be safety certified in about an hour, so they don’t miss a great deal of time away from the road.

Scan Your Surroundings

You should also constantly scan your surroundings when you are a last-mile driver. The environment and situation can change in an instant.

For example, a child may run into the road to chase a ball, or a pet may escape from their yard and dart onto the street. Defensive driving skills teach drivers how to react to incidents like these.

You should also be aware of fixed objects often found in residential areas. Parked vehicles, mailboxes, fences, signposts, fire hydrants, and trees and low hanging tree branches can cause a great deal of damage to vehicles if you aren’t careful.

Remove Distractions

Even the most skilled drivers can easily get distracted while they are driving. Distracted driving is a leading cause of car accidents and killed 3,142 people in 2020.

Taking your eyes off the road for just a few seconds can dramatically increase the risk for being in an accident.

It is best to completely remove distractions when possible. This includes never touching your phone while driving, whether this is to text, make a phone call, or even search for music.

Even eating while you are driving is a distraction. Avoiding each of these distractions can help you stay safe and prevent unnecessary accidents, especially in residential areas.

Understand Residential Driving Regulations

Driving in a residential area can be different than driving on a busy street, so it’s important to know the laws and rules of the road for driving in residential neighborhoods.

First and foremost, slow down. Residential speed limits are usually 25 miles per hour or lower. Many neighborhoods have speed bumps to control traffic flow.

Be prepared to yield the right-of-way when you approach another vehicle.

Watch for other slow-moving vehicles like post office vehicles, trash trucks, and utility vehicles.

Watch for Residential Traffic Signs

Stop. Yield. One-Way. No Left Turn.

Not only do you need to understand residential traffic regulations, but you should also watch for traffic signs in a neighborhood. Often, drivers are not as strict about obeying traffic signs in residential areas.

They may not stop completely at a stop sign or they may speed through a neighborhood. Watching for and following these traffic signs can keep you safe in a residential area and will keep you from being a danger to others.

Inspect Your Vehicle Regularly

Finally, safe driving also requires regular inspection and maintenance of your delivery vehicle. Even the best drivers may get into an accident if their vehicle malfunctions or if something else out happens that is out of their control.

Many accidents are caused by mechanical issues with a vehicle, including problems with the tires, brakes, or steering.

Getting regular maintenance can help you avoid breakdowns, which will keep you on schedule and can help you avoid car accidents.

Improve Your Defensive Driving as a Small Fleet Driver Today

As a small fleet driver, you need to learn how to drive safely in residential areas to protect yourself, your company, and those in the neighborhood. By following each of these defensive driving tips, you can avoid accidents and improve your driver safety.

There is no better time than now to take a defensive driving course or to update your fleet driver training with the best online safe driver course.

DriveSafe Online was named “Best Overall Online Defensive Driving Course” for 2020. Take a demo to see for yourself the high-quality content found in all our courses.