Most car accidents occur within 25 miles of home. An important reason for this statistic is that motorists often drive on autopilot when on familiar roads. With enough practice, you can anticipate and automatically drive on most routes with little conscious thought. This autopilot mode is advantageous most of the time, because it frees the mind to do other things. Without this ability for example, your morning routine of getting ready for work while planning for the day ahead would be exhausting.
Unfortunately, this ability can work against the commercial or owner operator truck driver who is overly familiar with his route and routine. Pattern recognition and eye-hand-foot muscle reactions (i.e., autopilot driving) doesn’t work well when the unexpected happens. It fails to recognize that a child’s ball bouncing across the road will likely be followed by a child. Road sign changes such as “bridge under construction” may not register in the mind. It also fails to anticipate potential accidents.
When driving on autopilot, you’re trusting that the drivers around you won’t place you in danger by making mistakes or driving negligently or recklessly. Your only defense against these drivers is actively engaging your mind. This means anticipating someone running a red light when the light turns green for you. Relying on your autopilot means dumbly driving through the intersection when the light turns green.
The mind naturally wanders when it isn’t challenged, which is exactly the situation when driving on the same trucking route for the 100th time. The best way to keep the mind challenged is by driving defensively and expanding your situational awareness of the road. This is not an easy task, which is why so few people do it.
Driving on autopilot will also cause you to make navigation mistakes on the occasions when your route changes a little bit. Your habits can only repeat what they’ve done countless times before. For example, failing to take a new exit off an interstate can waste time and fuel backtracking your way to the proper exit. When delivering a load, you owe it to the customer, your employer, the driving public, and to yourself, to be 100% present in the driver’s seat.
At J.E.B. Insurance Services, we have 17 years of insurance underwriting experience and can ensure that you get the best Texas commercial or owner operator truck insurance coverage at the most affordable rates. If you have questions, please contact us.