Essential Tips for Truck Drivers
As we are sure that you know, safety is vital in the transportation and logistics industry. Safety should never be an afterthought, in fact, it should always remain at the forefront of your mind, no matter your experience as a professional trucker.
Unfortunately, the nature of the transportation industry is that we always seem to be in a rush, but do not put your safety and the safety of your fellow motorist at risk because of a tight deadline. The white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland comes to mind, “I’m late, I’m late…” as trucking is a fast-paced environment, that requires skill, it also needs you to have an awareness and sense of responsibility about your safety, and the safety of other motorists.
You might have just finished your CDL training, or you are a trucking veteran, but your job as a truck driver has its risks, despite the experience that you may hold. Unfortunately, as a trucker, you can face a crash or dangers while you are on the road. These risks will be at no fault of your own, especially if you follow essential safety practices. We cannot avoid encounters with the aggressive drivers that are out there, and if you are operating a large truck remaining out of the way, and keeping your cool is sometimes easier said than done.
We want to keep our fellow truckers safe, so we have devised a list of key tips of the defensive driving technique for truck drivers. Here are three tips, which will help you to drive safely as well as remaining alert on the job.
Be aware of your surroundings
Staying aware of your surroundings as a truck driver is of the utmost importance. Continually monitoring, and assessing your surroundings such as a change in traffic will keep you, and the motorists around you safe. Good defensive driving is to continuously check your mirrors, to help you locate if there is a vehicle in your blind spot. Awareness will also help you to identify if you will be faced with an issue or upcoming obstacle on the road.
Take a break if you feel drowsy
It happens to the best of us, and recognizing the key signs of drowsiness is essential. If you feel tired, or worse sluggish, please take a break. Pull over, and rest whether you are on a tight deadline of not – your deadline can wait. These signs and symptoms of drowsiness may seem obvious, but if you experience any of the following, please pull over and have a rest.
- Frequent yawning
- Blurred vision
- Heavy Eyes
We know that there are tricks that you can use to try and keep yourself awake, like smoking or having a strong coffee. However, trust us when we say they are not effective ways to keep yourself alert.
3 Points of Contact
Remember to employ three points of contact at all times when entering or exiting the tractor, trailer, or climbing onto or down from the catwalk. This means always having both hands and one foot or both feet and one hand in contact with your equipment. Making this a habit can prevent slips, trips and falls!
Seven Second Rule: Distance Maintenance
Consider seven seconds to be the minimum safe following distance under ideal conditions. Remember to leave extra space if conditions are less than ideal.
Usage of Cruise Control
Do not use cruise control in less than ideal conditions. Using cruise control can be dangerous on wet or icy roads, as well as in areas where many speed corrections need to be made, such as on winding or hilly roads, in heavy traffic, and in urban areas.
Keep both hands on the steering wheel in the 9&3 o’clock position. This allows the maximum steering wheel movement in either direction without having to reposition your hands, giving you the most leverage and control of your vehicle.
Being extra careful in School Zones/Construction Zones
For everyone’s safety, slow down to posted speeds when approaching school and construction zones and be prepared to stop. Obey all signs and workers who are directing traffic.
Tractor & Trailer Lights Action
Keep your headlights and clearance lights on at all times when driving. Also, always make sure to keep your lights clean. Being visible is extremely important to your safety. Driving with lights on will allow a fellow motorist to see your equipment sooner. This will allow other drivers more time to adjust to any potential hazards.
Safe Loading and Unloading Practices
Ensure that vehicles and freight are properly secured when loading or unloading freight. Apply tractor and trailer parking brakes and turn off your tractor. If available, use chock blocks for extra security. Do not pull out of a loading dock until the dock plate has been removed and you have verified that the loading/unloading has in fact been completed and that no equipment or people are still working in the trailer.
Always keep your seatbelt on
Wear a properly adjusted seatbelt at all times. In a team driving environment, as a sleeper-berth occupant, use belts and/or netting during operation of the truck. Do not occupy the upper bunk unless the truck is parked. Seatbelts are the most effective vehicle safety device, saving thousands of lives annually.
Maintain a Speed Limit
To ensure your personal safety and the safety of those around you, travel at or lower than speeds of 62 mph (100 kph) or the otherwise posted speed limit of the roadway being travelled. Always adjust your speed to a safe level as determined by the various driving conditions.
Always carry sunglasses!
Blinding glare caused by low sun, sunlight reflecting off snow, other vehicles and/or buildings can be potentially lethal. This danger can be greatly reduced by wearing sunglasses with polarized lenses that filter glare. Choose sunglasses that have curved lenses to protect in front and to the sides, and thin frames to free up peripheral vision. Always remove sunglasses when entering tunnels.