Clean front windscreens lead to better observation and better driving.
Over the years of auditing heavy vehicles, I have been amazed at how many truck drivers fail to keep the front windscreens of their vehicles clean. Many start their journey with a dirty windscreen and without checking that there is sufficient water in the windscreen washer holder.
Windscreen wiper blades are often also a forgotten check item. Without good wiper blades the windscreen cannot be properly cleaned while driving.
Dirt and mud often splash up onto the front windscreen when driving in rainy weather, which can result in very poor visibility – especially at night, or at sunrise and sunset. Recent statistics recorded on the N3 route show that 60 percent of the daily recorded accidents occur at night.
Good driving requires more than the ability to master the controls of a vehicle; it requires constant observation and assessment of the road ahead and everything that is happening in the surrounding environment. The more that the driver can see of what is going on around the vehicle, the more clues he or she will pick up of likely road hazards.
The view from cab enables the driver to assess what is happening ahead and around the vehicle and then adopt the relevant advanced driving skills of identifying the road hazard, anticipating what may happen, deciding what action to take if necessary and then executing the action.
Without a clean front windscreen the driver cannot always see what is happening and, therefore, cannot apply his or her advanced driving skills, increasing the risk of a crash.
Observation is not enough, however; the driver needs to have the eyes of a detective looking for clues that could be the start of a road hazard.
Here are a few examples:
• A truck approaching, or travelling in front in the same direction, with a load that is not secure – the load could fall at any minute;
• A vehicle emerging from a side road or farm gate may not stop;
• Smoke in the distance could mean that it is coming across the road, resulting in zero visibility ahead;
• An approaching vehicle starts to overtake a slower vehicle and you can see that there is not sufficient room to accommodate all three vehicles;
• Skid marks on the road could be an indication that you are approaching a high accident zone;
• The traffic starts to slow down. A high number of tail-end crashes occur on many of the long-distance trucking routes;
• An approaching vehicle starts to wander across (or off) the road;
• Deposits of road-building material on the side of the road could be an indication that there are workmen and machinery on the road ahead;
• Animals or people on the side of the road ahead;
• Poor weather ahead.
Keeping the front windscreen clean, identifying road hazards early, anticipating what could happen, deciding what action to take if necessary and then executing the action – all reduce the chance of being involved in a crash, which could save lives.
One of this country’s most respected commercial vehicle industry authorities, VIC OLIVER has been in this industry for over 50 years. Before joining the FOCUS team, he spent 15 years with Nissan Diesel (now UD Trucks), 11 years with Busaf and seven years with International.
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