Driving a truck can be quite risky and hundreds of truckers are killed in this profession every year. A huge percentage of injuries and fatalities are caused by collisions and engine malfunctions. Experienced truck drivers acknowledge how important it is to follow safety tips, trends and laws to ensure that they avoid accidents.
As someone who has driven trucks before, I want to share my knowledge on road safety so that we can prevent useless accidents. Take a look at our list below to have a safer driving experience.
Gear Up for a Safe Ride
As a truck driver, one of the first things drivers that I do is prepare my vehicle for a safe ride. Even before I go on the road, I always make sure that my truck has all the necessary safety features. Seatbelts should be in good condition and the truck should have impact protection like bull bars or air bags. It is also important that the trailer and stability controls are working perfectly.
Pay Close Attention to the Road and Be Alert at all Times
While I’m driving my truck, I also make sure that I’m alert and aware of everything that’s happening around me. It is essential to pay close attention to the road and around the rig. When driving on a highway, especially when the traffic’s heavy, you should think of an ‘escape route’.
When I say ‘be aware of everything’, it also means that you have to be aware of the vehicles in front of you, behind you and beside you. In this way, you will be able to respond accordingly when the situation calls for it.
Before going on the road, I also make sure that I have enough rest to ensure that I am in my best condition at all times. My tip is to have an electronic logbook system so that will help you monitor your condition properly. If used accordingly, this system will help you become well-rested before and during your drive.
Review the Weather Forecast
“When you are tired, acknowledge your condition. Keep in mind that it is more reckless to drive when you’re tired than when you’re intoxicated.”
Another thing I find useful for safety is reviewing weather forecasts. This is an important part of a driver’s safety as weather conditions can affect the driving experience. During the winter season, you should allot longer driving hours because you have to slow down to avoid accidents. At times, inclement weather conditions may even require you to drive below the speed limit.
As Much as Possible, Try to Stay in your Lane
One of the best ways to avoid accidents is to stay in the same lane for as much as possible. If changing lanes cannot be helped, a signal should always be used to inform other drivers of your next move. As someone who has driven trucks before, I always remember to look for blind spots. Always remember that frequently changing lanes increases your chances of getting into an accident.
Be Considerate of Other Drivers
Keep in mind that just like you, other drivers on the road are trying to get to their destination. It goes without saying that you should always respect other people and share the road with them. For instance, when you give other drivers enough space, you can avoid dangerous collisions.
When I first drove a truck, I learned that it does not have the same brake ability as my SUV or other smaller vehicles I’ve driven in the past. So, it is advisable that as a truck driver, you have to keep a proper distance from other vehicles to prevent potential collisions.
Utilise a Trucker-centric GPS
In the market, there are GPS’s that are specifically designed for truckers. If you’re driving a truck, you can significantly benefit from this tool, especially when you are driving in an area for the first time. Using one will enable you to learn about important information like the distance before the nearest exit, the best time to change lanes and traffic reports, among others. It goes without saying that these GPS units are worth your money.
Have a Roadside Assistance Gear Ready
For your safety as well as for other drivers’ safety, you have to have a roadside assistance gear ready. If the situation calls for it, you can use it to alert other drivers on the road. Make sure that you have enough items that visually communicate your situation. When I was driving a truck, I always made sure that I had flashers, cones and road flares, among others.
Personally Review Delivery Spots
This is a trucking tip that most drivers ignore. Before you park the truck, you should remember to review the delivery spots on foot. It is not enough to scale the area by eyes while you’re inside the truck. You have to get off the truck and use about five minutes to check out the place.
There are many truck drivers who say that they’ve been to their delivery spots plenty of times before so they claim to know the place well. However, doing so might make you miss obstructions that will limit your truck once you decide to leave. I’ve made this mistake before and I usually had a hard time properly manoeuvring my truck because I missed some posts, low fire hydrants or ditches.
A huge percentage of truck accidents occur when the driver backs up. I too am guilty of this. As a truck driver, I too had delivery deadlines and I try to find ways to save time. So, I would usually make the mistake of taking a mental picture of the area without properly scaling it. Most often, I would miss the hazards and simply drive in. Of course, this resulted to parking accidents. Keep in mind that even parking accidents can be costly to everyone and they can even tarnish your driving record.
Things to Remember for Long Haul Driving
- Avoid tailgating. While long haul driving also means spending several hours on the road, remember to keep your emotions in check and always be patient.
- Do not neglect taking breaks. It would also be advisable if you can find an area where you can momentarily stop and get out of the truck. Doing so will keep you alert and fresh during long hauls.
- Remember that you’ll be sitting for hours so it is important that you wear comfortable, loose clothing. Wearing tight clothes can affect blood circulation and can cause serious health problems in the long run.
- When you are tired, acknowledge your condition. Keep in mind that it is more reckless to drive when you’re tired than when you’re intoxicated.
- Trucking regulations limit hours of driving per personnel to 11. Make sure you follow this rule and give your body enough rest.
It is undeniable that truck driving can be a risky profession. However, there are some guidelines that we can follow to ensure safety. Always remember that accidents can affect a lot of people, so it is better to prevent them by strictly following road safety rules.