Driving a truck may seem pretty simple and straightforward, but given the size and power of these vehicles, safety is critical. That’s why a significant portion of all truck driver training programs is devoted to teaching future drivers how to keep themselves and other operators safe on the road, while also protecting their precious cargo. If you’re planning a career in trucking, below are critical truck driver safety tips to keep in mind when getting behind the wheel.
Load Cargo Carefully
If you are responsible for loading your own truck, be careful about how you do so to avoid potential issues once you hit the road. Remember that the higher you stack your cargo, the more drag you will have on your truck. By stacking lower and distributing cargo throughout the full space of the truck, your vehicle will be easier to control and maneuver, making it safer. As an added bonus, you’ll also improve your fuel economy. Want to see how to best load your cargo? Use this simple load calculator.
Understand Blind Spots
All vehicles have certain areas known as blind spots from which the driver is unable to adequately see what’s around him or her. For larger vehicles, common blind spots include the area off to the side, just in front of the cab; directly behind the side mirrors; and directly behind the truck itself. It’s important to take extra precaution when conducting certain maneuvers, such as backing up or changing lanes. Also, keep in mind that four wheelers may be unaware of these blind spots. In fact, most four wheelers don’t know about the four no zones. You could think about placing warning signs with pictures of your blind spots on the back of your truck to inform four wheelers of the dangers.
Reduce Speed on Curves
Posted speed limits, particularly on roadways that feature lots of curves, are meant more for four wheel drivers. Larger trucks aren’t meant to hit these higher limits, especially around corners and bends. Driving too fast in such an area can increase the risk of your truck tipping over. Whenever you’re navigating around curves you should always reduce speed below the posted limit.
There are plenty of things you can do to ensure that your driving is safe, but since you’ll inevitably be sharing the road, it’s also important that you take into consideration the other drivers around you. Always be alert and prepared for any situation, like avoiding a collision with a vehicle that unexpectedly cuts you off.
Adjust for Bad Weather
About one quarter of all speed-related accidents involving trucks are caused by inclement weather. It’s critical that you reduce your driving speed accordingly when traveling in poor weather. A good rule of thumb is to reduce your speed by one-third when roads are wet and reduce half your speed when snow or ice is present. Allow ample time for other drivers to see your signals before changing lanes, and if you notice other truck drivers pulling over, it might be wise for you to do the same. For more information on winter weather driving tips, check out our blog post.
Drive with Caution in Construction Zones
Believe it or not, incidents involving large trucks account for approximately one-third of all construction-zone accidents. This is why truck driver training includes detailed instruction on how to watch for and avoid such situations. Pay careful attention to all road signs and always err on the side of caution by reducing your speed any time you are driving through a construction area.
Maintain Your Vehicle
Prior to leaving for any type of road trip, you are responsible for conducting a thorough inspection of your truck. Any potential problems should be reported and/or corrected immediately. The act of properly maintaining your vehicle can dramatically reduce the number of safety incidents that occur on the road. Test your knowledge about a pre-trip inspection with these free tests!
Another important lesson, though one that isn’t usually covered in truck driver training, is that of remaining calm in any situation. For some, this is easier said than done, especially in stressful situations such as heavy traffic or other delays. If you are to remain safe and prevent potentially dangerous accidents, however, keeping a cool head is essential.
Take Care of Yourself
Driving a truck can be an exhausting job, but given the inherent risk associated with the profession, taking proper care of yourself is of the utmost importance. For instance, making sure you always get the proper amount of sleep prior to getting behind the wheel. It’s also good practice to eat well, exercise regularly and enjoy some much-needed time off every so often. Doing so will keep you refreshed and rejuvenated, which will lead to safer driving all around. Trucking companies and drivers are making big changes for a healthier lifestyle; learn more in “The Push to Help You ‘Keep On Trucking.’”
One of the most important goals any truck driver strives for on a daily basis is that of safety. It takes a concerted effort and well-planned execution to avoid accidents and other potentially dangerous situations while behind the wheel. The truck driver safety tips listed above should provide a good foundation for keeping yourself, your vehicle and your fellow motorists out of harm’s way.