Based on statistics provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, trucker casualties are on the rise, and part of that may come down to safety practices while inside a big rig. Therefore, understanding the best methods of staying safe is essential for anyone who drives a truck, whether over a short distance or even from one coast to the other.
Whether you’re a new trucker or someone who considers yourself a seasoned veteran, safety should be a priority any time you are on the road. When proper safety steps are in place, you and all the people on the road around you will be in a safer situation.
It can sometimes be tempting to ignore a few safety requirements, especially when you have a load that needs to get somewhere fast. However, that puts you and everyone else in the area in danger. Since safety practices are fundamental to every professional truck driver, we want to share 10 driver safety tips.
1. Remain Alert at All Times
The most basic safety step to adhere to as a truck driver is to be alert. You should constantly be aware of everything that is going on around you. This includes other vehicles on the road, things to the side of the highway, and potential accidents if things change on the road while driving.
Make sure to look down the road and all around the truck. When you’re moving down a highway that might be filled with cars, always look for a way to get out of the situation if that’s needed. Know who is behind you, in front of you, and at your sides when driving.
By knowing what is happening around you, you can act if that becomes important. But there are other aspects to being aware while on the road. Staying well-rested will make it easier to be mindful of your surroundings. Use your logbook to ensure you get enough sleep at night to be ready to go the next day.
2. Pay Attention to the Weather
Watching the people around you is the first step to being safe while driving. But the individuals driving cars, trucks, and SUVs aren’t the only thing to be aware of. For instance, the weather can also impact your safety. If you head out onto the road and there is a thunderstorm, a hurricane, or a tornado, things can happen that might not with a sky full of sunshine.
When you get up in the morning, consider checking the weather conditions before heading off down the road. Turn on the radio, check an app, or otherwise get information about what kind of weather you can expect as you move into new areas throughout the day. Again, preparation is key to excellent safety as a trucker.
As you drive down the road, watch the outside temperature to know when road conditions might change. Knowing what you can expect prepares you to do a better job in situations you’re ready for in advance. In addition, you can be sure you’re prepared to practice bad weather driving and take any precautions that you might need.
3. Stay Away from Traffic
There may be moments when you have to drive through high-traffic areas. That’s understandable but should be avoided when not required. The truth is that these areas will take more time to get through, especially if you end up driving during peak traffic times. In addition, the more cars that are on the road, the more likely an accident is to happen.
Work zones tend to be expected in areas with high traffic. These can create hazards for a trucker, such as uneven road surfaces, lane shifts, moving equipment and works, sudden stops, and strange behavior from other drivers. Consider that about 33% of fatal accidents in these zones involve a large truck.
You don’t want to become a statistic, so watch out for workers and act with caution. Obey all the signs in the area, slow down your speed, implement following additional space, and stay ready to stop on a dime if needed.
4. Visit Delivery Destinations Via Walking
Of trucker safety tips, this one might be ignored the most. If you’re making a delivery, especially to a new location, search for a safe place to park your rig for a few minutes while you take in the site. While it might seem as if it’s easy to get in and out of a shipping area, sometimes things are more challenging than expected.
When you take time to get out and view the area, you’ll notice things like ditches, posts, and fire hydrants that might make it hard to get in and out. Remember the most important things since you may not see them when driving into the area. Keep in mind that many accidents occur while backing up, so be extra cautious.
5. Show Appropriate Caution at Night
Many truckers assume that their experience and skills are going to work the same in every situation. However, that isn’t the case when driving at night. Therefore, truckers should be extra aware of their surroundings, especially if maneuvering is challenging.
You don’t want to be that trucker who drives full steam ahead and ends up in a ditch, slamming into another truck’s trailer, or hitting a light post. So be aware of your surroundings, be alert, and move slower when you need to drive at night.
6. Institute Space in Front of the Truck
Another essential safety tip is to leave lots of room in front of the trick. While slowing down to stay a safe distance away can be frustrating, it avoids issues. Also, when there’s extra room between you and other vehicles, this gives you extra protection.
In most cases, if something goes wrong, it will occur in front of you. When there is extra space there, it will shield you from anything that happens. You’ll have additional time to slow down, move away, or otherwise avoid a situation you do not want to be in.
7. Lane Change Less Frequently
Once you’re headed down the highway, it’s best to remain in one lane. Cars are not going to do the same thing, which can be chaotic. If you need to move into a new lane, be cautious and pay attention to your blind sports while watching your mirrors.
The reality is that accidents are more common when someone moves lanes. If you stay in the same one and an accident occurs, it will likely be someone else’s fault.
If you’re moving into a city from a highway, consider taking the second lane from the right to keep away from the merging cars. This is another way you can stay safe and avoid an accident.
8. Use Your GPS System
Adding a trucker’s GPS system to your truck can be one of the best decisions. It gives you traffic information, the safest spots to change lanes, when to make an exit, and much more.
While a GPS device carries a cost, it can also reduce problems and make driving a lot less stressful. This is especially useful in areas you aren’t familiar with. Use your GPS but remember to use other tools, such as traditional paper maps.
9. Slow Down When Needed
Going slow might seem like a drag since it could take you longer to get from one place to the next. However, it’s essential in certain situations. You will not handle or corner like you were in a sports car when you’re in a big rig. Take the speed down near ramps and corners to avoid issues.
Remember that speed signs are designed for smaller vehicles, and it’s okay to slow down traffic to ensure you make it around a corner in one piece.
While you’re in a parking lot, there’s no need to go up in gear beyond the second. But, of course, you can ramp up the speed a little on a perfect day going down a straight stretch. Try to be cautious and make sure you can control the speed to stay safe.
10. Check Your Truck Tires and More
Check for issues like air leaks and soft tires and bend down to see if the truck is dripping fluids like oil. If a problem is present, start planning for how to handle it.
It’s essential to take regular breaks to allow yourself to move around. While you stretch and take a short walk, make a lap around the truck and its trailer. Then, you can see if there are any problems and be sure your load is on correctly.
There’s nothing more important than safety as a driver – both for you and the other people on the road with you. But, unfortunately, skipping over safety steps can compromise your own safety and lead to a devastating accident.
Sure, getting to the next destination is essential, but not at risk of hurting yourself or anyone else on the road. Follow the steps above and never take a risk that could change the entire trajectory of your life. It’s a part of being a fantastic driver who shares the road with other people.