Situational Awareness and Why it's Important

truck driver looking out semi window


Situational awareness involves your ability to assess what is happening around you and determine if there is a threat your health and safety or to the health and safety of others.

For truck drivers, being aware of your surroundings while driving on the road, at a customer facility, or in a parking lot is critical to avoiding preventable losses of personnel, property, and equipment.


Safety and health concerns are the No. 1 reason drivers should always be mindful of their situational awareness. No one wants to put his or her life in harm’s way or jeopardize the health and wellbeing of others by causing a preventable crash. Furthermore, your livelihood is at stake. Even incidents involving minor property damage put your driving career at risk.



Focus on the task at hand by ignoring distractions inside and outside the truck. Put away mobile devices before driving, and do not perform secondary tasks, like texting and eating, while driving.

Be attentive to the road ahead 

Be alert for traffic slowing ahead, pedestrian crossings, road obstacles, etc. Continually scan for potential hazards and be ready to react properly and in time to avoid a crash.

Observe the proper speed for conditions 

Allow yourself more time to perceive and react to hazards by slowing down. Reduce speeds below the posted limit, especially in congested areas and during periods of adverse driving conditions.

Maintain proper following distance

Do not tailgate. Keep a minimum of six seconds behind the vehicle in front of you. Add one second of following distance for each additional hazard present. 

Maintain one lane 

Manage the space around the truck and be mindful of the truck’s blind spots. Whenever possible, stay in one lane and avoid unnecessary lane changes. Signal your intent to change lanes well in advance. 

React Properly to hazards

Practice the "What if?” method while driving. For example, scan for hazards and ask yourself what you would do if a certain hazard presented itself, such as vehicles ahead stopped suddenly. What is your best way to stop the truck and avoid causing a crash?

Yield the right of way 

After a hazard has been identified, situational awareness also involves taking action to protect yourself and others. Yielding the right of way to others can help prevent a potential loss. 

Note: These lists are not intended to be all-inclusive.

This material is intended to be a broad overview of the subject matter and is provided for informational purposes only. Joe Morten & Son, Inc. does not provide legal advice to its insureds or other  parties, nor does it advise insureds or other parties on employment-related issues, therefore the subject matter is not intended to serve as legal or employment advice for any issue(s) that may arise in the operations of its insureds or other parties. Legal advice should always be sought from legal counsel. Joe Morten & Son, Inc. shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, action, or inaction alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the information contained herein. Reprinted with permission from Great West Casualty Company.