Prevent Crashes with Defensive Driving

​From motor vehicles to bicycles, animals, construction hazards and other roadway elements, drivers have countless potential hazards to avoid. Automobile accident-related injury claims averaged nearly 6 percent of the total number of SC Municipal Insurance Trust claims in more than the last five years. Since 2013 that percentage has ranged from 5.6 percent up to 17.7 percent.

"While minimizing the expenses and liabilities associated with collisions is important, SCMIT's primary goal in providing this type of training is to protect your most valuable asset, your employees," said Heather Ricard, director of the Municipal Association's Risk Management Services.

Injury or death from a workplace vehicle collision can have a devastating impact on the employee's family, coworkers and the city's reputation for years to come. Driving defensively increases everyone's chance of a good outcome. Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of fatalities in the workplace, and cities should make training a priority since many city positions require employees to drive city vehicles. In most cases, the accidents are caused by backing and rear-ending collisions, but it only takes one major injury to change the lives of the employee and residents.

RMS members recently completed defensive driver training in order to minimize collisions and the expenses and liabilities that can accompany them. The training used National Safety Council course materials, which include a variety of tips and information, including the following "Fatal Four Driving Behaviors:"

  • Speeding – Nearly one-third of driving fatalities involve speeding, according to the 2012 edition of the National Safety Council's Injury Facts. Always reduce speed when entering work zones and schools zones. If another vehicle is tailgating, slow down and let it pass. Most fatalities occur from midnight to 6 a.m.
  • Right of way – Violations include failure to yield, rolling through a stop sign, running a red light and other disregard for traffic signals, blocking an intersection, and failing to yield to a school bus or emergency vehicle. If stopped at an intersection and the light turns green, a driver should count for 2 seconds, scanning left, right, forward and left again, before accelerating.
  • Driving left of center – Ask yourself before deciding to pass: "Is this absolutely necessary?" If yes, only pass when it is safe and legal and when you can do so without speeding.
  • Following too closely – Use the 3-second rule: Watch the vehicle in front of you pass a billboard (or other fixed object). As its rear bumper passes the billboard, count "one-thousand and one; one-thousand and two; one-thousand and three." Your front bumper should not pass the billboard until after you have finished counting. If it does, you're following too closely.

Top Causes of Distracted Driving

  • Passengers
  • Cellphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Audio/music technology
  • GPS devices

Cities with membership in the SC Municipal Insurance Trust program are eligible for a free four-hour defensive driver training offered through the National Safety Council. For more information, contact Venyke Harley, loss control manager, at 803.933.1210 or