Drivers encounter all sorts of conditions from day-to-day. Heavy traffic, detours, construction zones, bad weather, breakdowns and accidents blocking multiple lanes….all of these situations can affect their attitude, energy and judgement.
Driving too fast for the conditions means going faster than reasonable based on the conditions around the vehicle. Most drivers think this is limited to bad weather, but it could be any of the issues mentioned above.
The FMCSA states;
“Driving too fast for conditions is defined as traveling at a speed that is greater than a reasonable standard for safe driving. Examples of conditions where drivers may find themselves driving too fast include: wet roadways (rain, snow, or ice), reduced visibility (fog), uneven roads, construction zones, curves, intersections, gravel roads, and heavy traffic.”
Driving too fast for conditions robs the operator of time needed to react, steer, brake and avoid problems. Speed increases stopping distance, and the raw energy stored in the vehicle — possibly translating what might have been a fender bender into a crash with ambulance and tow truck.
Learning self-discipline to slow down in response to challenging situations is one mark of a truly professional driver, or at least an operator who really cares about being safe and getting home to his/her family without incident.
Key Places to Slow Down
Several specific areas should be treated with extra caution regardless of the posted, legal speed limit:
- streets near neighborhood playgrounds and/or schools
- areas with heavy foot traffic or cycling lanes
- construction zones
- marked wildlife crossing areas
- railroad grade crossings
- curvy roads where sight lines are limited (can’t see around the bends)
- approaching the crest of hills where stopped traffic may be waiting
Key Times to Slow Down
The most obvious time to slow down is during extreme weather conditions. Additionally, driving at night may be a time to exercise appropriate caution. Many crashes, especially fatal and serious injury crashes, occur because drivers failed to reduce their speed for one of these special conditions.
Practical Tips for Dealing with Adverse Conditions?
This month’s Ten-Minute Training Topic includes a list of practical tips for drivers to consider when planning their trips, tools that can be helpful and ways to stay calm despite the conditions they encounter.
Our Ten-Minute Training Topic program (Click HERE to see our topic calendar for 2013) features a monthly driver handout, manager’s supplemental report (with news items related to the topic, tips for reviewing safety policies, and more). The program also includes a pair of slideshows — one for easy duplication, and one for showing in lounges or classroom settings with full graphics, photos and charts.
The program is part of our safety hotline system — to enable the 80% of drivers who NEVER get a complaint about their driving to benefit from safety awareness training while those who do get the occasional complaint have additional training resources available to help them change habits (of the 20% who get complaints only half get more than one complaint — it is this very small group of drivers who get report after report who need the most urgent attention from managers before they get a ticket or become involved in a collision.
The unfortunate, likely outcome of driving too fast for conditions is either a ticket or a collision. Ultimately, adjusting your speed to cope with the conditions (however defined) is your responsibility.