Tips to Avoid Fixed Obstacles 

You might be trained to avoid collisions by following the rules of the road. Driving within the speed limit and maintaining a safe following distance are important tasks when traveling on roads and highways.   

However, are you aware that driving on backroads and parking lots can be almost as dangerous? 

Colliding with low-hanging tree branches, poles, signs, and building overhangs can cause a great deal of damage to vehicles and may even lead to serious injuries. More than 7,000 people died in a single year involving fixed obstacles.  

These types of collisions can be avoidable if you follow the proper safety procedures to reduce or even eliminate the risk of striking a fixed object.  

Eliminate the Possibility 

The most effective way to avoid fixed obstacles is to keep away from them. Plan your route beforehand or scan the area before entering to identify potential threats. Look for cement barriers, light posts, mailboxes, or fence posts. Once you know what to expect, you can steer your vehicle away from any obstacles. 

Avoid Backing 

Blind spots are often to blame for accidents, especially when backing your vehicle. If you must back into a location, use a spotter to be your eyes outside the vehicle and help guide you into position safely. When possible, pull through a parking spot to avoid backing altogether.    

Perform a Walkaround 

Are you familiar with the acronym GOAL—Get Out And Look? Know it. Follow it. Live it. 

Before you drive, always get out and walk around your vehicle so you know what obstacles are present and where they are located. This is important if you make several stops throughout the day. When you’re busy thinking about work tasks, you can easily forget about your surroundings.  

Use a Flag 

There may be times when you work alone, and no one is available to help guide your path as you maneuver your vehicle.  

In these instances, you may place a tall flag next to the obstacle so you can locate it easily while moving your vehicle. Avoid the flag and you’ll avoid the fixed object. 

Don’t Park Near a Fixed Object  

This tip is important for fleet drivers who share vehicles.  

Avoid parking your vehicle near a fixed object when possible. When you’re close to a stationary object, the chance of hitting that item increases. If another driver uses that vehicle later in the day, they may not know the item is nearby and could strike it.  

Avoid Distraction 

Whether driving in parking lots or on highways, distractions are always dangerous.  

Whenever you operate a vehicle, put your phone away. Place you drink securely in a cup holder. Don’t eat. Stop talking with passengers until you pull your vehicle safely into position. 

Know Your Vehicle 

Whether you drive your own car or a company-owned vehicle for work, get familiar with its characteristics. A car, van, box truck, or utility vehicle all have different dimensions and require special handling.  

Before you move the vehicle, know how tall it is to understand how much clearance you need to drive under bridges or building overhangs. Also know how long it is so you give yourself enough room when making turns.  

Be Prepared 

Preparation, awareness, and pro-active decision making are key components of defensive driving. When you know the capabilities and limitations of your vehicle, and successfully follow these tips, you can safely avoid hitting fixed obstacles.  

Train Your Fleet Drivers 

Training is an essential tool your fleet drivers need to stay safe on the road. Protecting your employees also means protecting your company’s investment. Work-related traffic accidents cost companies millions of dollars every year.  

Vehicle repair. Medical bills. Lost employee productivity. Higher insurance rates. All these results have the potential to destroy a company and the lives of its employees.  

DriveSafe Online defensive driving courses can help. Named “Best Overall Online Defensive Driving Course” by Investopedia, our courses provide important driving tips and techniques to help drivers learn how to anticipate, identify, and avoid road hazards.  

We also offer short, one-topic instructional modules for quick reference. If you’re familiar with the drip-training method, you know its effectiveness. If your unfamiliar with this learning strategy, contact us and we’ll be glad to discuss all the incredible opportunities available for fleet training—whether you have three drivers or a team of 300. 

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