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The VIP treatment

GUELPH, Ont. - Complimenting Markel's FACTS defensive driving course is the company's Visibility Improvement Program (VIP) which aims to enhance visibility, thus reducing collisions.





GUELPH, Ont. – Complimenting Markel’s FACTS defensive driving course is the company’s Visibility Improvement Program (VIP) which aims to enhance visibility, thus reducing collisions.

The VIP program instructs drivers on how to sit in the truck to reduce fatigue and improve their field of view. Instructor Rob Spencer explained that four types of collisions account for one-third of all accidents: sideswipes; backing; striking parked vehicles; and striking stationary objects.

All those types of incidents can be reduced by proper seat and mirror positioning, he pointed out.

Drivers should adjust the seat so their feet are flat on the floor and their knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Likewise, the back should be at a 90-degree angle, and the seat should be moved forward so the driver can comfortably reach the pedals without stretching excessively, Spencer said. The steering wheel should be positioned so the driver’s elbows are at the front sides of his or her ribcage when their hands are at the nine- and three-o’clock positions.

This seating position allows for better control of the truck while reducing fatigue. It also allows the driver to better view the mirrors.

As for the mirrors themselves, a set of two cones is needed to properly adjust them for optimum visibility.

The first cone should be placed 20 feet from the front bumper and about one foot out from the side of the truck. (This should place it between the drive axles on a standard tractor-trailer configuration).

The second cone should be placed 20 feet behind the rear of the trailer, in line with the first cone.

When seated in the truck, you should see the rear cone about nine inches from the top of the main mirror.

The edge of the vehicle should be visible along the edge of the mirror – but only a sliver of trailer should appear, Spencer pointed out. This maximizes the visibility of adjacent lanes.

The front cone should appear in the upper right-hand corner of the convex mirror and, again, only a sliver of vehicle should appear along the inside edge of the mirror.

As for the fender mirrors, the front cone should appear on the top, inside corner of the mirror. The very edge of the tractor should appear on the inside edge of the convex mirror, Spencer explained.

Proper mirror adjustment and seating position essentially eliminates all blind spots on the tractor-trailer – except the areas immediately in front of and behind the unit.

Proper seating height can help improve forward visibility but without the use of an on-board camera system, there’s not much more that can be done to allow a driver to see directly behind the trailer.


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